'Louie, Louie' Composer Dies

  • Share
  • Read Later
LOS ANGELES: Died: Richard Berry, composer of one of collegedom's most enduring anthems, "Louie, Louie." Berry, who sold his simple song for only $500 in 1956, saw it grow into a cult favorite when the Kingsmen recorded their famously incomprehensible version in 1963. It rose to number 2 on the Billboard charts that year, before being ousted by the Beatles. The muddled lyrics of the song can be blamed on the primitive studio conditions in which it was recorded; Kingsmen lead singer Jack Ely had to scream the words into a microphone suspended 12 feet above his head. Hardly a phrase in the song can be understood, but rumors that the lyrics were obscene persisted. Federal investigators played the song at varying speeds, searching for profanity, but ultimately came up empty. "We found the record to be unintelligible at any speed we played it," they concluded.