1964 May 20

FBI Can’t Decode “Louie Louie” Lyrics; U.S. Will Not Prosecute


The U.S. Attorney in Fort Wayne, Indiana, informed the FBI that it would not prosecute Wand Records on charges of interstate distribution of obscene material for distributing the hit record Louie Louie. The FBI Laboratory was “unable to determine [its] words or lyrics.” An FBI Lab report referred to the actual 45 rpm record as “the specimen.”

The FBI had begun its campaign against obscenity on September 30, 1942. Victims of its lawless spying on other entertainment figures included movie stars Marilyn Monroe (May 6, 1962, for a planned trip to Mexico) and Rock Hudson(May 28, 1965, for his alleged “homosexual tendencies”).

Don’t Believe it? Read the FBI documents at FBI FOIA Vault:

Read the great book on the history of the song: Dave Marsh, Louie Louie (1993)

Decipher it for yourself. Listen to Louie Louie by The Kingsmen:

Learn more: Douglas M. Charles, The FBI’s Obscene File: J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau’s Crusade Against Smut (2012)

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