Jack Ely, ‘Louie Louie’ Singer, Dead at 71

Kingsmen frontman died after a long battle with an unspecified illness

Last Updated: April 28, 2015 @ 4:29 PM

Jack Ely, singer of the 1963 classic “Louie Louie,” has died at his home in Redmond, Oregon. He was 71.

His son, Sean Ely, confirmed the death on Tuesday according to media reports, but because of his father’s religious beliefs, his family is unsure what illness claimed Jack’s life.

Ely was the lead singer of the Kingsmen, a cover band that in 1963 produced a cheap recording of Richard Berry’s 1950s song “Louie Louie.” That version of the song became a classic, even with its unintelligible lyrics that band members attributed to the low-quality recording.

The Kingsmen version of “Louie Louie” played prominently in pop culture, appearing in dozens of TV shows and movies including “American Graffiti” and “Animal House” — and its homage episode of “The Simpsons.”

Ely had a falling out with the Kingsmen shortly after “Louie Louie” was recorded, and the group disbanded.