Richard Berry

Richard Berry (April 11, 1935-January 23, 1997) was an American singer and songwriter, best known as the composer and original performer of the rock standard "Louie Louie". He was born in Extension, Louisiana, and moved with his family to Los Angeles as a baby. He began singing and playing in local doo-wop groups, recording with several of them including The Penguins, The Cadets and The Chimes, before joining The Flairs (who also recorded as The Debonaires and The Flamingoes) in 1953. The Flairs' record "She Wants To Rock", on Modern Records, featured Berry's bass vocals, and was an early production by Leiber and Stoller. ...show more

Richard Berry (April 11, 1935-January 23, 1997) was an American singer and songwriter, best known as the composer and original performer of the rock standard "Louie Louie". He was born in Extension, Louisiana, and moved with his family to Los Angeles as a baby. He began singing and playing in local doo-wop groups, recording with several of them including The Penguins, The Cadets and The Chimes, before joining The Flairs (who also recorded as The Debonaires and The Flamingoes) in 1953. The Flairs' record "She Wants To Rock", on Modern Records, featured Berry's bass vocals, and was an early production by Leiber and Stoller.

When, a few months later, that pair needed a bass voice for their production of The Robins' "Riot In Cell Block #9" on Spark Records, they recruited Berry to provide the menacing introduction to the song - uncredited, as he was contracted to Modern. Berry's voice was also used at Modern, again uncredited, as the counterpoint to Etta James on her first record and big hit, "The Wallflower (Roll With Me, Henry)", and several of its less successful follow-ups. Berry also recorded with several other groups on the Modern and Flair labels, including The Crowns, and girl group The Dreamers (who later became The Blossoms). By the end of 1954, he left the Flairs to form his own group, the Pharaohs (See Richard Berry & The Pharaohs), while also continuing to work with other groups as a singer and songwriter.

One of these was a Latin and R&B group, Rick Rillera and The Rhythm Rockers. In 1955, Berry was inspired to write a new calypso-style song, "Louie Louie", based on The Rhythm Rockers version of René Touzet's "El Loco Cha Cha", and also influenced by Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon". Richard Berry and the Pharaohs recorded and released the song on Flip Records in 1957, originally as a B-side. It became a minor regional hit, and, when the group toured the Pacific Northwest, several local R&B bands began to adopt the song and established its popularity. ...show less