Maximum Louie Louie, KFJC 89.7 FM, Los Altos Hills, California, Aug 19-22, 1983
The story of "Louie Louie
" at KFJC
began back in the
dawn of Rock n Roll on it's airwaves. Way back in '66, budding air head Woody
played the first Rock n Roll record on KFJC. It was none other than The
' "Louie Louie
". He had no idea at all what seeds he
sowed that day.
Fast forward to the second coming of punk...
Fast forward to the second coming of punk and the reemergence of KFJC. A mere
microsecond later, at 6:00 pm on August 19, 1983, KFJC kicked of its infamous
"Maximum Louie Louie.
Maximum Louie Louie
began innocently enough. A stupud idea spawned
simultaneously by two KFJC staff members. Stretch Riedle
and Phil Dirt
thought it would be fun to play all the versions of familiar songs, like "Hey
." Between them, there were about 30 versions of
"Louie Louie," and Stretch played them all in a row during hs
graveyard show at the Wave of the West
At about the same time, KALX
at the University of California
had done a survey to determine their audience's favorite song. As you might
imagine, it was "Louie Louie." KALX's Mel Cheplowitz
was a good gag, so he did the same thing, netting around 50 versions of the
song. Not to be outdone, Stretch came back with more for his second round, and
that lead to Mel doing an even one hundred versions.
Doc wasn't having any of it.
Competition is the American way. Why not see just how far we could go. One
night, Phil Dirt
was sitting in the office of Doc Pelzel
supervisor at KFJC. They were talking about it, and being tired, started letting
their imaginations carry them into fairyland.
"If we do this, we could get on the front page of the San Jose
Mercury. Maybe the Chronicle. If we get enough advance publicity, amybe on TV.
Heck, maybe we could get on satellite to the rest of the country. We could
release a best of "Louie Louie" album and raise money for KFJC. We
could be famous."
Doc wasn't having any of it. But, maybe it would be fun trying. That was the
start of the big event.
Richard Berry joined in for the event
For the event, Stretch Riedle
tracked down Richard Berry
, and he
agreed to take the train from LA to Los Altos Hills to be a guest and talk about
the record. He brought is daughter Christi with him. Whe Richard arrived, he was
surprised to find television people already at KFJC scoping out the terrane. We
ushered him off to an instore promotion at Tower Records
View, where he was swamped with fans and collectors, one of whom got his
autograph on the only 78 RPM copy of the original release of "Louie
Louie" he'd ever seen. Richard was overwhelmed. He had been languishing in
obscurity, training to do computer work to overcome his unemployment, and on
Jack Ely flew in too
Saturday, while Stretch and Phil Dirt were on the air, a friend of a friend had
contacted Jack Ely
, who called in for an interview. Richard Berry was
hustled away from his fans to talk with Jack on the phone. They'd never met. In
closing out the call, Jack commented that he wished he were at the event. Phil
said "there are flights all day...come on down. Fly into San Jose and we'll
pick you up." Jack paused, and said "OK!" Arrangements, and he
arrived Sunday morning.
Jack's first meeting with Richard was a marvel to behold. They talked like
they's known each other forever. They had this song between them for 20 years.
Richard Berry and Jack Ely and the Lady Bo Trio live
That afternoon, Richard was scheduled to perform "Louie Louie" live on
air. Phil Dirt had arranged for the Lady Bo Trio to back up Richard. Peggy
"Lady Bo" Malone
had played guitar with Bo Diddley for many years
beginning in the fifties. She kenew her chops. An electric piano was arranged
for Richard to play. With Jack in attendance, he was invited into playing bass
and singing with Richard. That was magical. Local luminary Ricky Sludge
) also joined in to play
trumpet. It was an incredible 45 minute performance of "Louie Louie."
Maximum Television and the Wall Stree Journal
KFJC kicked of its infamous "Maximum Louie Louie
" at 6 PM with
cameras from KRON-TV Channel 4
, KPIX Channel 5
, and KGO-TV
when it all began, along with news dudes from NPR
and the Wall
. Before the weekend was over, it was in every major newspaper
in the US, and covered around the world. It even made the front page of the Wall
Street Journal the Monday morning after.
Over 800 Louies in 63 hours and 14 minutes
"Maximum Louie Louie
" tortured many thousands of innocent
families with those plaintiff 1-4-5 chords emanating from a paltry 823 versions
of "Louie Louie" over a scant 63 hours and 14 minutes. Many a local
ya-hoo ventured into the garage or into our expansive studios to rant forth with
their own facsimile expressly for KFJC. It was amazing.
- Check out all the Louie's on the playlists from that fateful day!
- Learn more about Richard Berry and his anthem of the rock generations,
visit Eric Predoehl's Louie Report