'Louie, Louie': We've Got a Go

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For a three-chord song about nothing, "Louie Louie" has had a highly contentious history. But today the Supreme Court closed what is probably the last controversy to surround the'60s beer-bash anthem by letting stand a ruling giving members of the Kingsmen royalties for their record. The group, which recorded the most successful version of Richard Berry's inane frat-house ditty, had never been paid any royalties from their 1963 smash.

It's been a long, stumbling road for "Louie, Louie." Figuring that anything performed with such primal, drunken abandon had to be dirty, the government put its best ears on the case to try to prove that it was obscene. But the impossibly slurred delivery yielded little of the lyric's supposedly salacious message, which appeared to exist mostly in the imagination of hopped-up college kids, and the feds finally concluded that the Kingsmen's opus was "unintelligible at any speed." Whatever it is they're talking about, at least the Kingsmen are getting paid for it now.