Louie Louie (song)

Artist: Benton Harbor Middle School Marching Band

Year: 2005

Date of Action: May 2005

Region: North America

Location: Benton Harbor, Michigan

Subject: Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Music

Confronting Bodies: Superintendent Paula Dawning

Description of Artwork: "Louie Louie" was originally written and recorded in 1956 by Richard Berry. Since then, it has become arguably the most covered song ever, though the most famous cover is by The Kingsmen in 1963. In their cover, however, the Kingsmen slurred and blurred the articulation of the words in the song, leading many to believe they were covering up obscene lyrics. However, in the original Richard Berry version, there are no profane lyrics.

The Incident: The song was to be performed by the marching band for the Grand Floral Parade, when one parent called to complain about its supposedly obscene lyrics. Upon receiving this complaint, superintendent Paula Dawning forbade the band from performing the song.

It is also notable that an FBI investigation in the 1960's determined there were no obscene (or even intelligible) [1] lyrics to the Kingsmen's cover of the song. Furthermore, as it was to be performed by the marching band, no lyrics were to be included in the performance.

Results of Incident: After numerous parents called in to support the marching band's performance, and many others complained that it would be too late for the band to perform a new song, the superintendent reversed her decision.


See also http://www.boingboing.net/2005/05/05/band-banned-from-cov.html and http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,155628,00.html

For a comprehensive blog about the song's history and current performances, see The Louie Report: http://www.louielouie.net/blog/