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Richard Berry
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Vocalist
    (April 11, 1935-January 23, 1997)
    Born in Extension, Louisiana
    Wrote and recorded the original version of 'Louie, Louie' (1957)
    Uncredited guest vocalist on the Robins' 'Riot in Cell Block #9' (1953) and Etta James' 'The Wallflower (Roll With Me, Henry)' (1955)
    Three of his kids were born out of wedlock.
    He wrote the words to 'Louie, Louie' on either a paper bag or some toilet paper (depending on which version of the story you hear).
    He sold the copyright to 'Louie, Louie' (and four other songs) to his record company for $750 (1959), missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties when the Kingsmen made the song into a hit.
    By the mid-80s, he was on welfare and living in his mother's house.
    He was a versatile singer who could sound like Little Richard on uptempo rockers, Muddy Waters on blues numbers, or Jesse Belvin on ballads.
    He wrote one of the enduring classics of rock and roll.
    Lawyers from the Artists Rights Society negotiated a deal that returned 75% of the publishing rights for 'Louie, Louie' to him, earning him over $100,000 a year in royalties during his last decade.
    He was a popular guest at radio station 'Louie, Louie' marathons.
    Asked if it was frustrating being remembered for only one song, he said, 'Hell, that song has gotten me quite a few gigs when I couldn't have dug a gig up.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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