A Proposal for a
Louie Louie Design
for the Washington State Quarter

The Washington state quarter should feature the song Louie Louie.  One design possibility would be to feature the words Louie Louie across the outline of the state, as shown in the design example at the bottom of this page.

There are several reasons to support the Louie Louie design.  According to the design criteria issued by the US Mint (http://usmint.gov/mint_programs/50sq_program/index.cfm?action=criteria), the Louie Louie design is ideal choice.

As demonstrated below, Louie Louie is very significant in the history of our state.  For over 40 years, this song has contributed to the cultural and historical record of our state, and it continues to do so today.

The design would have broad appeal to the citizens of Washington state.  The song is well known and popular among all ages, genders and ethnicities.  It would represent the east and west sides of the state equally, unlike a geographic image as is found on many state quarters and which would tend to favor a particular region of the state.

The design is neither frivolous nor controversial, but it would be fun.  Having the Washington State Quarter feature the words Louie Louie across the outline of the state would make our quarter the unique among the 50 state quarters.  It would represent Washington state as the lively, energetic and unique place that it is.

Historical Background

The link between the state of Washington and the song Louie Louie is profound and unprecedented – stretching over 40 years and continuing today as strongly as ever. Louie Louie started out as a fairly obscure song written by rhythm & blues artist Richard Berry. But around 1960, the song was discovered by several Washington state artists who began playing it in their local shows. There is some disagreement over which Washington band was the first to play Louie Louie, and even over which band was the first to record it. But what is clear is that in 1961, Rockin’ Robin Roberts and the Wailers from Tacoma released the first cover version, and the first rock-n-roll arrangement of Louie Louie, which became a regional hit in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

According to some sources, a different Tacoma band – Little Bill & the Bluenotes – actually recorded the song before the Wailers, but didn’t release the single until later. There is also disagreement over which band was the first to perform Louie Louie in the Northwest, various claims that Ron Holden, the Frantics, or the Dave Lewis Combo – all Washington artists – have that honor. Regardless, by 1963, Louie Louie had become widely viewed as a regional anthem, and seemingly every Washington rock ‘n roll band included it as part of its repertoire.

While bands from Oregon and Idaho also recorded well-known versions of Louie Louie, it is clear that the origination of Louie Louie as a rock-n-roll anthem was centered squarely in Washington State.

And Washington Bands have continued to play and record it in disproportionate numbers. A sampling of Washington bands that have recorded Louie Louie includes: the Wailers (1961), Little Bill (1961), the Viceroys (1963), the Ventures (1965), the Sonics (1966), the Feelies (1968), Jr. Cadillac (1972), Mr. Epp (1981), the Mellowdramatics (1981), Girl Trouble (1985), George Barner and the Original Trendsetters (1985), Charlie & the Tunas (1994), and the New Original Sonic Sound (2000). Plus, Louie Louie is a staple of the UW and WSU marching bands.

In 1985 there was an effort to make Louie Louie the official state song of Washington. The Whatcom County Council passed Resolution No. 85-12 asking the state legislature to make Louie Louie the state song, and to name a newly created county “Louie Louie County.” The legislature, unfortunately, missed this historic opportunity and failed to adopt Louie Louie as the official state song.

The Washington Senate, however, did pass Floor Resolution 37 - declaring April 12, 1985, to be "Louie Louie Day" in the state of Washington. Nearly two decades later, Governor Gary Locke proclaimed August 24, 2003, to be "Louie Louie Day." That Washington has officially designated a “Louie Louie Day” demonstrates its importance to the state. That the state did it again more than 18 years later demonstrates an enduring importance that is unprecedented.

In connection with the effort to make Louie Louie the state song, the original composer of the song, Richard Berry, wrote new lyrics specifically about Washington state. In 1986, Senate Bill 5024 was introduced in the Washington Senate to declare Louie Louie, with the new lyrics, the official "rock-n-roll" song of Washington. This bill also failed to pass. Nevertheless, Louie Louie is frequently referred to as the “unofficial rock-n-roll song of Washington state.”

In recent years, there have been several attempts at world records involving large numbers of guitarists playing simultaneously; and of course, the Washington state events used Louie Louie as the song. The first was at the Riverfront Park Music Festival in Spokane in 2000. Then, there were the two 1000 Guitar / Louie Fest events in Tacoma in 2003 and 2004 -- which were also fundraisers for the Wailers Performing Arts Foundation, which helps provide musical instruments and instruction to children. None of the attempts made it into the record books, but they were another example of the continuing popularity of Louie Louie in Washington state.
Patch used by the Washignton State councli for the 2005 National Scout Jamboree
Recently, Louie Louie was featured on an official Boy Scouts patch representing Washington state at the National Scout Jamboree - another example of the how Louie Louie continues to be associated with Washington state, even among our youth.  All indications are that the the connection between Louie Louie and Washington state will remain strong for the next 40 years - and beyond. 

Now, in 2005, we have an opportunity to add another chapter in the enduring relationship between Washington state and Louie Louie by adopting this concept and design for our Washington State quarter.

Design Example:

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