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Jack Ely

Jack Ely

Portland, Oregon -- 2009

Remembering Jack ... September 11, 1943 - April 28, 2015

Jack Ely, the singer known for "Louie Louie", was an original member of the Kingsmen, a band formed in 1959 that mostly performed cover versions of songs. The group recorded "Louie Louie" at a studio in their home city of Portland in 1963. It was reputed to have cost $36 to produce. The song became a No. 2 hit nationally and stayed in the Top 40 for 13 weeks. In 2007, Rolling Stone magazine called it the No. 4 most influential recording of all time.

My brother-in-law, Kerry Bechtol, is a Lighting Director for rock bands in the Northwest. Through his rock-n-roll connections, he put together a stellar band for his own wedding. As the guest saxophonist, I got to jam with lead singer Jack Ely and bassist Gary Fontaine of the '80s pop band, Nu Shooz. Nominated for the "Best New Artist" Grammy in 1986, New Shooz went on to earn a gold record the following year for their Atlantic Records release "Poolside". What a rockin' wedding band!

Jack Ely and Gary Fontaine

Sadly, six years later Jack died at his home in Redmond, Oregon, after a long battle with illness. He was 71. His son Sean said that Jack was a Christian Scientist and had not sought treatment, but that he believed the cause was skin cancer. According to his son, Jack was content with his legacy as a one-hit wonder. He was active in Rockers Against Drugs and was an advocate of legislation that would grant royalties to recording artists and record labels as well as songwriters.