berry_richard_louie_louie_lpDoes the name Richard Berry ring a bell? No? Well it is his birthday on April 11, 1938 that we celebrate today on


Me gotta go now!

The version most of us remember was the Kingsmen’s smash hit in April of 1963, where Jack Ely’s garbled vocals set off a shitstorm with the puritanical culture police (always a menacing presence in the USA), who were certain the song had obscene lyrics and it was up to them to protect the nation’s youth from being corrupted by Rock & Roll (too late!) by having the song banned from the airwaves.

This of course had the effect of boosting sales through the roof and making Louie Louie the most popular party song ever, and inspiring a hundred other artists to record the tune.

Richard Berry, a successful songwriter and Rhythm & Blues artist, was born in Louisiana and raised in LA, died in 1997, got screwed out of his royalties (an old and too familiar story) until the 1980s, when a lawsuit forced publishers to pay him, lifting him from the dire poverty into which he had fallen to being a multimillionaire.

The song we have all danced and sung to, which he wrote as a change-of-pace Calypso number about a man returning from the sea to his lady love, was written in a sort of Jamaican patois, and not one in a hundred of us know the lyrics. Well, here they are:

Louie Louie, me gotta go

Louie Louie, me gotta go

Fine little girl she waits for me

Me catch the ship for cross the sea

I sail the ship all alone

I never think I’ll make it home


Three nights and days me sail the sea

Me think of girl constantly

On the ship I dream she there

I smell the rose in her hair


Me see Jamaica moon above

It won’t be long, me see my love

Me take her in my arms and then

I tell her I never leave again

•Suggested Activities: Learning 3 chords and rocking the house.

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