City Cast

3 Question With Dick Peterson of The Kingsmen

City Cast Portland staff
City Cast Portland staff
Posted on October 26
five members of The Kingsmen in dark suits and skinny ties

The Kingsmen. (Luke Strahota)

The anthem of garage rock was recorded here in Portland. Before “Louie Louie” became the most covered song in history, it was dismissed and also banned. Dick Peterson, the last remaining original member of the Kingsmen, talked to the City Cast Portland podcast about how the song got famous:

How did "Louie Louie" get on the radio at first?

“Arnie ‘Woo-Woo’ Ginsburg, a DJ in Boston who had a 50,000-watt radio station that beamed all over the East Coast, was on a mission to find the worst record ever recorded. He would put records on every evening. And so 'Louie Louie' started winning every single night. If you hear something, even if you don't like it and it's horrible, pretty soon, you hear it enough and you start liking it.”

Tell us about the FBI's effort to ban the song.

“The FBI followed us and they were at our concerts for a year before they had a hearing to have the band lifted. The judge listened to it…so he said, 'I'm going to agree with the FCC that the lyrics are unintelligible at any speed and I'm going to lift the ban because I can't tell what they're saying.’”

What happened after the ban?

“We were on TV. We did 'American Bandstand' several times. Everybody had to have a song.”

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