‘Louie Louie’ singer Jack Ely of The Kingsmen dies, aged 71

Ely died at home following a long battle with illness

Jack Ely, lead singer of The Kingsmen and the voice of 1960s hit ‘Louie Louie’, has died aged 71.

The news of Ely’s death was confirmed by his son, Sean, who also stated that he died at home in Redmond in Oregon following a long battle with illness.

“Because of his religious beliefs, we’re not even sure what (the illness) was,” BBC News reports he said. Ely spent his later life training horses in Oregon after falling out with bandmates in The Kingsmen.

The band’s biggest hit was ‘Louie Louie’, a song which was released in 1963 and subsequently investigated by police on the grounds it may contain obscene lyrics. However, the FBI was forced to admit that the song was “unintelligible at any speed” and that they were unable to decipher any of the words that feature in the song.

‘Louie Louie’ was originally recorded in 1957 by Richard Berry, who had written it two years earlier and has subsequently been covered by artists including The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Troggs, the Sonics, the Beatles, Mothers of Invention, Motörhead, Black Flag and Iggy Pop.

Ely made peace with his one-hit wonder status, according to his son Sean, who said: “He wanted to try on different occasions to pursue other endeavours in the music industry, but I think when it was all done and said he was pretty happy that he did ‘Louie Louie’.”