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Chronological History of THE KINGSMEN Personnel.
1959-Present: (If your name is not here, you were never a Kingsmen!)
Mike Mitchell 1959-Present
Lynn Easton 1959-1967
Jack Ely 1959-1963
Bob Nordby 1959-1963
Don Gallucci 1962-1963
Gary Abbott 1962-1963
Norm Sundholm 1963-1967
Dick Peterson 1963-Present
Barry Curtis 1963-2005
Kerry Magness 1966-1967
J.C. Reick 1966-1967
Turley Richards 1967-1967
Pete Borg 1967-1967
Jeff Beals 1967-1968
Steve Friedson 1967-1973
Yank Barry 1968-1970

2013-Present
Fred Dennis 1972-1984
Andy Parypa 1982-1984
Kim Nicklaus 1982-1984
Marc Willett 1984-1992
Steve Peterson 1988-Present
Todd McPherson 1992-Present
Dennis Mitchell 2006-Present

 

The Kingsmen formed in Portland, Oregon in 1959. As young teenagers, they played high school parties, teen dances, supermarket openings, and fashion shows. Like many fledgling bands of the day, they copied what they heard on the radio: Elvis, The Ventures, Country music, R&B, and the burgeoning Northwest Sound. They became one of the most popular bands in the Portland area.

The band started recording in 1963. Their first effort was "Louie Louie," a song played by virtually all Northwest rock & roll and R&B bands, and an original instrumental, "Haunted Castle." The session, costing $36 at Portland's Northwest Recorders, produced a tape used to audition for a job on a cruise ship bound for Australia. The cruise line hated it!     

 Jerry Dennon, a record producer in Seattle, pressed a few hundred copies on his regional label, Jerden. Northwest music fans were already familiar with "Louie" as released by Richard Berry (1956), the Wailers (1961), and Paul Revere and the Raiders (who recorded their version in the same studio within a few days of the Kingsmen session).

    The Kingsmen fought it out with the Raiders on local radio for a few months. Somehow, the Kingsmen version found its way to the East Coast, where a couple of Boston stations played it, generating a huge response from listeners. Jerry Dennon entered into an agreement with New York's Wand label for immediate mass pressing and distribution.

     Wand worked the record effectively and "Louie" rapidly broke out in several markets, climbing the charts. As it began to drop, a controversy regarding the lyrics spread across America. The record was banned from sales and airplay in Indiana and elsewhere which, of course, stimulated even more interest; so much so that Wand reissued "Louie" in 1964 (and in 1965 and 1966). The record reached #2 in Billboard and #1 in Cashbox.

     The band's first LP resulted from a live recording in 1963 at The Chase, a teen nightclub in Milwaukee, Oregon (production costs were less than $800). Wand included the studio version of "Louie" to which they added taped crowd noise to simulate a live performance (a practice Wand continued for several subsequent studio LPs). "Money," their second Wand single was taken from the live LP. Many more releases followed. At one point, the Kingsmen had two singles and three LPs on the charts at the same time.

   They became the #1 touring band in the United States. In 1965, during a series of one-nighters, they set fifty-six consecutive attendance records in colleges, ballrooms, arenas, state fairs, and community dances. Many promoters used the Kingsmen as a promotional gimmick to "repel" the British Invasion (a joke to the band, as they loved that music). They appeared in concert and on television with the Rolling Stones, Zombies, Kinks, Searchers, Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, Dusty Springfield, and others; and North American acts such as the Beach Boys, Righteous Brothers, Four Seasons, Isley Brothers, Guess Who, Turtles, Shangri-Las, Byrds, Lovin' Spoonful, Kinckerbockers, and all their Scepter/Want label mates. They were featured on the top TV music shows including Shindig, Hullabaloo, American Bandstand, Lloyd Thaxton, Action; and in the beach party movie, "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini."

     With two breaks (during the psychedelic and disco eras), and several personnel changes along the way, they have performed ever since at concerts, corporate events, beach parties, and "Louie Louie" parades throughout North America. Three of the Kingsmen, Mike Mitchell, Dick Peterson, and Barry Curtis, have been together since 1963.

To clear the record, from 1968 to mid-1969 we authorized our management to tour The Kingsmen group on the road, while we were on sabbatical. This was our group, where we auditioned and selected approved artists. Yank Barry was the approved lead singer of that group and always will be on record. We (Dick Peterson and Mike Mitchell) were at the rehearsals in Los Angeles and met Yank Barry, with our management. That group was legal, and was the official Kingsmen, with our knowledge, support and approval. Towards the last quarter of 1969, when management did not pay our owed royalties, we proceeded to issue a cease and desist to our management. Only at that point in time was the group unauthorized. Yank Barry was long gone as the Kingsmen and became President of McConnell Records and was no longer a member of the unauthorized group. Yank Barry has done more for the song Louie Louie around world than any other member, raising millions of dollars for charity. He has also re-familiarized the new generation with our hit Louie Louie.

Thank you for visiting our site,

Dick Peterson & Mike Mitchell


Honorary Kingsmen
*Mike McElhoe*

We always enjoy having our friend Mike "sit in" to sing and strum his signature tunes.



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