Okay, I admit it. When in my youth, in the 1960s, I would scribble my name on 45s. To understand why is to understand the era. 45s were easy to find. They were also important. My very good high school friend Bill Soon and I would cruise Hody’s, Grisingers and Oscar’s in his 56 Chevy and play cool records on his ARC under the dash record player that dug into the playing surface with extra pressure to prevent the stylus from bouncing around when the lowered car hit the driveway apron. Some of these 45s I recall was an original gold top Federal “Sixty Minute Man” by the Dominoes and and the silver-top “Work With Me Annie” by the Royals. Then there were the rarities on colored vinyl, like “Church Key” by the Revels. And just the great cruising music like “Take the Key” by Richard Berry and the Pharoahs, and of course, “Louie Louie” and “Have Love, Will Travel.”
Then there were the parties. To keep the music cool and prevent the playing of Pat Boone or Bobby Vee records (except for ”Suzie Baby,” of course), one had to furnish better records. But one wanted to keep track of these records, so name-writing was the method of sorting out a potentially dangerous “that’s my 45!” debate with a car club guy who brought some sides and some friends.
If you wore out a record or one was stolen, you could go to Wallich’s Music City or any of the stores in the Long Beach area and pick up a replacement with ease. But there were those 45s that were impossible to replace. In fact, it was while visiting Wallich’s and checking the James Brown section when I found out that the word “collector’s item” applied to “Mashed Potatoes U.S.A.” Looking further at the bins, I saw that some 45s were no longer available. That’s when I decided to buy all I could of these records, and a record collector was thusly born.
All of which brings us back to “Louie Louie” by Richard Berry & the Pharaohs on Flip, one of the coolest and best 45s to ever be played in a house party setting with the lights down low and the girl smelling like the latest scent of something romantic, her Angora sweater clinging to my sweaty T-shirt. Ow!
Except is wasn’t “Louie Louie.” It was an early mis-press, “Louie Lovie.” I’ve only seen two copies of this mistake press in my life, my own copy of which I lost track and in the 45 collection of a lady associated with Flash Records in the 1950s, who decided to not sell it to me at any price. And I’d lost track of my own. So I was “Louie Lovie”-less until I got a recent call from Jim Philbrook who published Record Convention News and who had come across a batch of 45s he was helping to price for a local charity sale. He wanted to know if I’d ever seen “Louie Lovie.” I told him the story of taking it to parties, losing it along the way, a record whose ownership was challenged in the day.
Within a day, Jim called back. “You’re not going to believe this,” he said.
He was right. As a result of what he told me, he sent me the record, gratis. It was my copy from a decade ago. I’ll let you guess how he knew it was once mine. I’m not admitting to anything else. But check the image.
There’s a very sad adendum to this story.
Shortly after the “Louie Lovie” story was published, Jim Philbrook passed away suddenly on July 11, 2007 at age 64. Then, within a month, Bill Soon passed away suddenly on Aug. 3, 2007 at age 62. There are some things that just can’t be explained.