The FBI had already launched a formal investigation into the supposedly pornographic lyrics of the song “Louie, Louie.” On May 17, 1965, the FBI Laboratory announced whether the lyrics of the hit song were “dirty.” Answer this and other trivia questions on other musical investigations by FBI.
Why was “Louie Louie” Investigated by the FBI?
This Richard Berry song that was written in 1955 was released by different musical artists numerous times but created a stir when performed by The Kingsmen in 1963. Because it was difficult to understand the lyrics, some thought some of the lyrics were obscene. Off-color song lyrics could violate the law against interstate transportation of material that is obscene, so the Federal Bureau of Investigation was asked to examine it. As evidence, the FBI Laboratory was given a copy of the song, lyrics supplied by Limax Music and off-color lyrics supplied by an undetermined source.
The song was actually investigated by three separate government agencies, the Federal Communications Commission, the Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Service. It dragged along for about two years when the FBI and other agencies declared the lyrics incomprehensible and closed the case. Jack Ely, who sang the song on the record, attributed the indecipherability of the song to the braces he wore on his teeth at the time and awkward location of the mic and left the group shortly afterward.
Were There Any Actual Obscenities on the Song? There are no off-color words in the lyrics themselves. However, when the drummer for The Kingsmen dropped his drumstick about one minute into the song, listeners can hear him yelling a one-word obscenity. The record was recorded in one take, so this single curse word stayed on the released tune, but it takes real concentration to hear it.
What Popular TV Show-Musical Group Was Investigated? Individual musicians were hired by the creators of the show, The Monkees, a TV show about a band that’s struggling to find success. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork appeared on the show from 1966 to 1968. While their music was never investigated by the FBI, their show was in 1967. The subject of interest was the screen that appeared behind the band while they were singing. It was reported to the FBI that subliminal messages were appearing on the screen with anti-American messages about the war in Vietnam, depictions of riots at Berkeley and race riots in Alabama. Apparently, The Monkees were “too busy singing” for the FBI to bother with because nothing came from the investigation.
Which Musician Who “Tiptoed Through the Tulips” Was Investigated by the FBI?
The ukulele playing, falsetto-voiced Tiny Tim, who appeared on such programs as The Tonight Show and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, was investigated in 1968. It wasn’t because of his biggest song, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” that was nominated for a Grammy but because of a possible association with other people such as Frank Sinatra or members of the mob. One source, who apparently had connections with the entertainment industry, thought it was unusual that Tiny Tim was paid $50,000 for one week for a casino appearance in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. After an investigation, the FBI concluded that there was no evidence that Tim had any connection with either Sinatra or any hoodlum element.