Mike Mitchell, a founding member of The Kingsmen (and guitarist on “Louie Louie”) has died

On April 6, 1963, a five-piece band born in a Portland garage, entered the studio with a local DJ to record a version of Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie.” They had a total of $50, which got them exactly one-through of the song.

Everyone was crowded around one overhead mic. Singer Jack Ely had big braces on his teeth and had to stretch his head way back to single nearly vertically into that microphone. The performance was shambolic. Drummer Lynn Easton can be heard swearing after dropping his sticks. Ely comes in at the wrong spot, requiring an ad-libbed drum fill to cover the flub.

About the steadiest guy in the room was guitarist Mike Mitchell. And once the song took off, his guitar solo became one of the most-covered of all time.

The Kingsmen carried on for decades with members coming and going–except for Mitchell, who was part of the band for 62 years.

Mitchell died on April 16 at the age of 77. No cause of death was given.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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