Louie Louie: The Day The FBI Raided a Record Company


On this day in 1965, FBI agents busted down the doors of Wand Record Company in search of evidence of national terrorists threatening the well being of American children. Those terrorists were a Portland, Oregon garage band known as The Kingsmen. Not KingsMAN, as in the British action comedy about Samuel Jackson making people's heads explode and insidious phone apps that drive everyone to becoming mindless murderous zombies, not THAT. These terrorists had merely pounded out a cover of a R&B tune, ham-handedly at that, and pressed it on vinyl at Wand Records the company that also distributed Canned Heat, the forerunner of ZZTop Moving Sidewalks and a stable of excellent R&B artists. Despite it's sloppy execution and slurred verses, and being panned by DJ's as the Worst Record in the World, it got huge airplay in the US of the 60's and was chart topping on radio. Which is where some alarmist parent heard it, and believing the unintelligible lyrics were obscene, scrawled an hysterical letter to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy alleging the song was so filthy it could not be written in the letter. Kneejerk reactions ensued. Radio stations yanked the song off the air and state's banned it, including Indiana hoping to salvage the minds of teenagers including those who were suspected of circulating the 'real lyrics' among sock hops and hootnannies across the country.
That's what led up to the FBI raid of Wand Records. The feds conducted a (money well spent) taxpayer funded 31 MONTH investigation of the lyrics which consisted of listening to the album over and over and questioning The Kingsmen who were pretty clueless as to what the fuss was happening. After 31 months of working on it they proclaimed they couldn't understand the lyrics and as a result could not declare there was any obscenity committed. What is true about the song, obscene or otherwise, is that it is the Most Recorded Rock Song of all time according to Detroiter and Creem Music Critic Dave Marsh coverd by among a few names we'd know: The Kinks, Zep, Black Flag, The Flamin' Groovies and even Motorhead. And that's how a deadly threat to America was discovered to be nothing more than a sloppy version of a dumb song that wasted immense FBI time and attention that might've gone to pursuing real terrorists not to mention taxpayer dollars. As for whether "Louie Louie" destroyed anybody's mind? I normally would jump to thinking that's preposterous. But .....was it?