Maximum Louie Louie, KFJC 89.7 FM, Los Altos Hills, California, Aug 19-22, 1983
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Friday 6 pm
August 19, 1983
The story of "Louie Louie" at KFJC began back in the dawn of Rock n Roll on it's airwaves. Way back in '66, budding air head Woody Muff played the first Rock n Roll record on KFJC. It was none other than The Sonics' "Louie Louie". He had no idea at all what seeds he sowed that day. Fast forward to the second coming of punk...

Fast forward to the second coming of punk and the reemergence of KFJC. A mere microsecond later, at 6:00 pm on August 19, 1983, KFJC kicked of its infamous "Maximum Louie Louie."

Maximum Louie Louie began innocently enough. A stupud idea spawned simultaneously by two KFJC staff members. Stretch Riedle and Phil Dirt thought it would be fun to play all the versions of familiar songs, like "Hey Joe," "Gloria," "Pipeline," and "Louie Louie." Between them, there were about 30 versions of "Louie Louie," and Stretch played them all in a row during hs graveyard show at the Wave of the West.

At about the same time, KALX at the University of California at Berkeley had done a survey to determine their audience's favorite song. As you might imagine, it was "Louie Louie." KALX's Mel Cheplowitz thought it was a good gag, so he did the same thing, netting around 50 versions of the song. Not to be outdone, Stretch came back with more for his second round, and that lead to Mel doing an even one hundred versions. Doc wasn't having any of it.
Competition is the American way. Why not see just how far we could go. One night, Phil Dirt was sitting in the office of Doc Pelzel, station supervisor at KFJC. They were talking about it, and being tired, started letting their imaginations carry them into fairyland.
"If we do this, we could get on the front page of the San Jose Mercury. Maybe the Chronicle. If we get enough advance publicity, amybe on TV. Heck, maybe we could get on satellite to the rest of the country. We could release a best of "Louie Louie" album and raise money for KFJC. We could be famous."

Doc wasn't having any of it. But, maybe it would be fun trying. That was the start of the big event. Richard Berry joined in for the event For the event, Stretch Riedle tracked down Richard Berry, and he agreed to take the train from LA to Los Altos Hills to be a guest and talk about the record. He brought is daughter Christi with him. Whe Richard arrived, he was surprised to find television people already at KFJC scoping out the terrane. We ushered him off to an instore promotion at Tower Records in Mountain View, where he was swamped with fans and collectors, one of whom got his autograph on the only 78 RPM copy of the original release of "Louie Louie" he'd ever seen. Richard was overwhelmed. He had been languishing in obscurity, training to do computer work to overcome his unemployment, and on welfare. Jack Ely flew in too Saturday, while Stretch and Phil Dirt were on the air, a friend of a friend had contacted Jack Ely, who called in for an interview. Richard Berry was hustled away from his fans to talk with Jack on the phone. They'd never met. In closing out the call, Jack commented that he wished he were at the event. Phil said "there are flights all day...come on down. Fly into San Jose and we'll pick you up." Jack paused, and said "OK!" Arrangements, and he arrived Sunday morning.

Jack's first meeting with Richard was a marvel to behold. They talked like they's known each other forever. They had this song between them for 20 years. Richard Berry and Jack Ely and the Lady Bo Trio live That afternoon, Richard was scheduled to perform "Louie Louie" live on air. Phil Dirt had arranged for the Lady Bo Trio to back up Richard. Peggy "Lady Bo" Malone had played guitar with Bo Diddley for many years beginning in the fifties. She kenew her chops. An electric piano was arranged for Richard to play. With Jack in attendance, he was invited into playing bass and singing with Richard. That was magical. Local luminary Ricky Sludge (Eric Lenchner - Readymades / Ultras) also joined in to play trumpet. It was an incredible 45 minute performance of "Louie Louie." Maximum Television and the Wall Stree Journal KFJC kicked of its infamous "Maximum Louie Louie" at 6 PM with cameras from KRON-TV Channel 4, KPIX Channel 5, and KGO-TV Channel 7 when it all began, along with news dudes from NPR and the Wall Street Journal. Before the weekend was over, it was in every major newspaper in the US, and covered around the world. It even made the front page of the Wall Street Journal the Monday morning after. Over 800 Louies in 63 hours and 14 minutes "Maximum Louie Louie" tortured many thousands of innocent families with those plaintiff 1-4-5 chords emanating from a paltry 823 versions of "Louie Louie" over a scant 63 hours and 14 minutes. Many a local ya-hoo ventured into the garage or into our expansive studios to rant forth with their own facsimile expressly for KFJC. It was amazing.