The Kingsmen

The Kingsmen are a garage/frat rock group from Portland, Oregon. The band first got together in 1959. The original line-up was Jacky Ely (guitar/lead vocals), Lynn Easton (drums), Mike Mitchell (lead guitar), Bob Nordby (bass) and Don Galucci (piano). The Kingsmen started out by performing at high school parties, teen dances, supermarket openings and fashion shows. They soon became one of the most popular local bands in the Portland area. The Kingsmen recorded their debut single “Louie Louie” in 1963 for the paltry sum of only $36 at Portland’s Northwest Recorders studio. The song went all the way to #2 on the Billboard pop charts in 1964. Because Ely’s lead vocal was extremely muffled and the lyrics subsequently borderline incomprehensible, rumors began to circulate that said lyrics were obscene. This only added to the song’s growing popularity and eventual legendary cult status. “Louie Louie” was not only banned by the governor of Indiana, but also investigated by the FCC and FBI to determine if it was indeed obscene. Alas, the monumental success of “Louie Louie” caused friction amongst the group. Ely and Easton formed two different versions of the band. Easton’s group went on to record a steady string of follow-up hits that include covers of both “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “The Jolly Green Giant” (this particular song was the band’s second biggest smash; it reached #4 on the Billboard charts in 1965), “Death of An Angel,” “The Climb,” and “Annie Fanny.” The Kingsmen appear as themselves and perform the tune “Give Her Lovin'” in the silly “Beach Party” romp How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). Moreover, the group made guest appearances on the TV shows American Bandstand (1952), Shindig! (1964), Hullabaloo (1965) and Where the Action Is (1965). A wonderfully raucous frat rock party classic, “Louie Louie” has graced the soundtracks to such movies as National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), Quadrophenia (1979), Coupe de Ville (1990), Passed Away (1992), Jennifer 8 (1992), Man of the House (1995), Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995), _Say It Isn’t So (1991)_ and _Guy X (1992)_. In addition, the band’s definitive rendition of “Louie Louie” was cited by “Rolling Stone” magazine as both the fourth most influential recording of all time and one of the 50 most important rock recordings of the 20th century. The Kingsmen still continue to perform today, although only Mike Mitchell remains from the original line-up.

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