Let’s give it to ’em right now!! The Inside Story of Louie, Louie…

Cover of Louie, Louie by Dave Marsh

Cover of "Louie, Louie" by Dave Marsh

This is a truly great book about rock and roll. The sub-title of the book is as follows: “The History and Mythology of the World’s Most Famous Rock’n’Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I., and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing, for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics” Isn’t that intriguing?  You bet it is!

I was totally surprised by this book.  I thought it was going to be some kind of light, funny take on the history of “Louie, Louie”.  This is a serious and scholarly look at the song and it’s significance.  That’s not to say that the book isn’t entertaining as well, because IT IS!  This book will make you laugh and make you think. 

First of all, The Kingsmen did not write Louie, Louie.   A great soul singer from L.A.  named Richard Berry wrote the song.  He had a reasonable amount of success with it at first.  His story is a subject all by itself.  Paul Revere and the Raiders released a version of the song within days of The Kingsmen.  Their versions fought it out on the radio for weeks, but The Kingsmen ultimately won.  Why?, well that’s why you should read the book.  Well, that reason and because you want to know what the dirty lyrics are, right?  Dave Marsh makes a great case for Louie, Louie being the greatest Rock’n’Roll song of all time.  There are now over 3,000 version of Louie, Louie.  There is an annual Louie, Louie radio marathon called “Maximum Louie, Louie”.  Maximum Louie, Louie is held every April 11th and they play every known version of Louie, Louie.    There is a web site where you can report any new versions that you know of.  He also makes amazing connections between the primal scream of “Let’s give it to ’em right now!” and Kurt Cobain and the   birth of Grunge or The Seattle Sound.  After all, the Kingsmen were from Portland Oregon.  The F.B.I. spent more time and money investigating the song  than they did investigating John Lennon.       J. Edgar Hoover finally decided that the lyrics were indecipherable.  Ain’t Rock’n’Roll Grand!  There are so many fascinating stories in this book that I can’t share them.  Suffice to say the book is worth the time you will invest in reading it.  I strongly recommend it.  As for me?  “…we gotta go now!”

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About John

I taught myself how to play the piano and read music when I was 9 years old. I've been been consumed by music ever since. I majored in Piano performance in College and I still play, although not as well as when I had time to practice 4 -6 hours per day. This blog is about music. Music is the sound track of our lives. All it take is one song, one composition; and we are transported across time and space. I think it was Beethoven that said: "Music is the landscape of the soul."
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3 Responses to Let’s give it to ’em right now!! The Inside Story of Louie, Louie…

  1. Ken West says:

    Great review, John-you sold me, I’ve got this on order from Amazon (been looking for something to read on the plane this weekend). I can’t hear this song without smiling at the image of the (blitzed) new pledges and members of Delta House 🙂

  2. Ken West says:

    Read it and loved it! What a entertaining read, and it leads to a connection I had totally forgotten about until now-Don Gallucci later founded the band Touch, and their self titled (and only) album is one of the forgotten masterpieces of progressive rock. I didn’t even know of the existence of this record until a friend brought it over to the house one evening a few months ago and I ripped it onto the music server (it’s out of print and commands ridiculous prices on ebay) it is truly a phenomenal record, one of those “where has this album been all my life” moments. If you haven’t heard it, you need to-send me an email with your address and I’ll burn you a copy.

    Have you read The Last Sultan-The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertugun? I highly recommend it-Ertegun was such a fascinating and colorful character, and his Atlantic Records produced some of the greatest pop and rock records ever made.

    • John says:

      I sent you my home address by email. It goes without saying that I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A COPY OF THE TORCH LP!!! Thanks so much! I didn’t know about the book about Ertugun. I’ve always thought someone should write a book about his career. His contribution to music cannot be measured. I will add that to my reading list too.
      Happy Easter to you and your family.

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