‘Louie Louie’ Guitarist Mike Mitchell of The Kingsmen Dead at 77
The Kingsmen guitarist Mike Mitchell, who rose to fame with his band's '60s hit "Louie Louie," has died at the age of 77.
Kingsmen drummer Dick Peterson confirmed the news to Rolling Stone in a statement that read, “We are deeply saddened by Mike’s passing. He was the kindest and most generous man on the planet. For the past 57 years, we have been playing colleges, fairs, and festivals, vintage car shows and rock n’ roll shows throughout the USA. Mike is irreplaceable, and he will be greatly missed not only by us but the fans as well. Mike was a favorite for his comedic nature as well as his musicianship.”
No cause of death was given, but the musician is said to have "peacefully passed away" on April 16 which was also his 77th birthday.
The Kingsmen initially formed in 1959 after Lynn Easton and Jack Ely invited Mitchell and Bob Nordby to join their new band. They added Don Gallucci in 1962, making the group a five-piece. While the lineup changed over the years, Mitchell was a constant through its run.
The band was best known for their 1963 cover of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie," with Mitchell laying down the well known guitar solo for the track. The song hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 where it remained for six weeks. Below you can catch a performance on the popular '60s series Shindig!
The Kingsmen Perform "Louie Louie" on Shindig
In a statement put out by the Oregon Music Hall of Fame on April 17, Terry Currier wrote, "He has given us great music on record and live for over 60 years. He was quite possibly the nicest musician I was ever around."
He added, "For me, the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and the City of Portland, he was always offering his services to make the world a better place... help gives kids music education in the schools, scholarships and him and the Kingsmen headlines a number of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame inductions. He never let his chops fall behind. His playing just got better ... Mike, we love you and we will miss you dearly. Look forward to meeting up with you on the other side... rest in peace."