When The Kingsmen's 'Louie Louie' Topped FBI's Most Dangerous Song Chart

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
Left: Rock and roll band "The Kingsmen" pose for a portrait in circa 1965. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). Right: Text from the letter to Robert F. Kennedy that started the FBI investigation of 'Louie Louie.' Source: FBI

What gets a rock song investigated by the FBI?

"Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen is one of the great party anthems of all time. Featuring an ultra-groovy organ riff with slurred lyrics and a chorus that means next to nothing, it was the perfect tune for shouting at the top of your lungs at a college party back in 1964. It was ok if you didn't know the lyrics -- nobody did. But this odd party hit, almost a novelty song because of its ragged garage appeal, earned the scrutiny of the FBI in the mid-'60s. J.Edgar Hoover's crew, it seems, worried that it might be unwholesome, if not subversive.

In early 1964, the song sat at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the rival Cashbox chart. Something had to be done.