Mike Mitchell 1943 – 2021 Kurznachruf

April 19, 2021

Lichtgeschwindigkeit 10204

am Montag, den 19. April 2021


Mike Mitchell, founding member and guitarist for the “Louie Louie” hitmakers the kingsmen, geboren 1943 in Portland Oregon USA died Friday – 17. April 2021 – on his 77th birthday.

In 1957, Lynn Easton invited Jack Ely to play with him at a Portland Hotel gig, with Ely singing and playing guitar and Easton on the drum kit. The two teenagers had grown up together, as their parents were close friends. Easton and Ely performed at local parties and events, and soon added Mike Mitchell on guitar and Bob Nordby on bass to round out the band. They called themselves the Kingsmen, taking the name from a recently disbanded group. 

zitiert nach Magazin ROLLING STONE:

The Kingsmen began their collective career playing at fashion shows, Red Cross Red Cross events, and supermarket promotions, generally avoiding rock songs on their setlist. In 1962, Don Gallucci, a high school freshman at the time, was recruited from another local group, the Royal Notes, to play keyboards.

Kingsmen drummer Dick Peterson confirmed Mitchell’s death to Rolling Stone in a statement. No cause of death was provided other than Mitchell “peacefully passed away.”

“We are deeply saddened by Mike’s passing. He was the kindest and most generous man on the planet,” Peterson, a Kingsmen since 1963, said in a statement, “For the past 57 years, we have been playing colleges, fairs, and festivals, vintage car shows and rock n’ roll shows throughout the USA. Mike is irreplaceable, and he will be greatly missed not only by us but the fans as well. Mike was a favorite for his comedic nature as well as his musicianship.”

Guitarist Joe Walsh said of Mitchell, who delivers the iconic guitar solo on “Louie Louie,” in a statement, “My sincere condolences. I learned to play the guitar because of Mike Mitchell. I know every one of his solos, mistakes and all. We’re losing the good guys.”


Mitchell was the lone remaining founding member still in the Kingsmen, who formed in Portland, Oregon in 1959, four years before the garage band scored an unlikely hit with their loose rendition of Richard Berry’s 1957 song “Louie Louie.” The song spent six nonconsecutive weeks at Number Two on the Hot 100.


“A blast of raw guitars and half-intelligible shouting recorded for $52, the Kingsmen’s cover of Richard Berry’s R&B song hit Number Two in 1963 — thanks in part to supposedly pornographic lyrics that drew the attention of the FBI,” Rolling Stone wrote of “Louie Louie” for the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, where it placed No, 55.

“The Portland, Oregon, group accidentally rendered the decidedly noncontroversial lyrics (about a sailor trying to get home to see his lady) indecipherable by crowding around a single microphone.” The single was so indecipherable that it was banned in Indiana and investigated by the FBI over its allegedly obscene lyrics. The FBI eventually deemed the song “unintelligible at any speed.” “When ‘Louie Louie’ was banned in Indiana back in 1964 by then-Governor Walsh, every kid had to have a copy, and the record took off like wildfire across the country!“

“I always thought the controversy was record-company hype,” then-Kingsmen singer Jack Ely, who died in 2015, told Rolling Stone. Peterson added in his statement Saturday, “When ‘Louie Louie’ was banned in Indiana back in 1964 by then-Governor Walsh, every kid had to have a copy, and the record took off like wildfire across the country!”

The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Troggs, the Sonics, the Beatles, Tom petty, Mothers of Invention, Motörhead, Black Flag and Iggy Pop would all later record covers of “Louie Louie,” one of rock’s most influential songs.

While the founding members of the Kingsmen would split by 1963 — Ely (who formed another The Kingsmen, leading to a legal battle over the band’s name) and bassist Bob Nordby both departed before “Louie Louie” became a hit — Mitchell would remain the band’s guitarist for the next 62 years.

With varying Kingsmen lineups, Mitchell recorded six albums between 1963 and 1966, and although the band are often considered “one-hit wonders” due to the success of “Louie Louie,” they actually released a string of successful singles in the early half of the Sixties, including covers of “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Money (That’s What I Want)” and the novelty hit “Jolly Green Giant.”

the kingsmen spielt noch heute als US-BAND, längst mit zahlreichen jüngeren Musikern. Die Originalstudioaufnahme wird in A Dur, D Dur E moll gespielt und wurde 1963 in Portland aufgenommen; es behandelt eine Marinesoldaten-Lovestory.


Dietmar Moews meint: Mit meinem Erwachen als Beatmusiker spielte ich Louie Louie, kannte die Bedeutung des Textes nicht, dachte, es sei von Chuck Berry, es ist aber von Richard Berry (kannte keiner), und wir glaubten der Song sei von den Londoner The KINKS bekannt, verwechselten wir mit kingsmen, aus Portland, und alle, die ich kannte, spielten LOUIE LOUIE in drei Dur-Akkorden, während der dritte Akkord im Original als Moll ertönen müsste (wie auf allen bekannten Plattenaufnahmen) – aber keiner bemerkte den kleinen Unterschied, Hauptsache: We gotta go.



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