Richard Berry Biography
Richard Berry, Jr. was an American singer, songwriter and musician, who performed with many Los Angeles doo-wop and close harmony groups in the 1950s, including The Flairs and The Robins. He is most known for creating and performing the iconic rock song “Louie Louie” in its original form. The song went on to become a smash for The Kingsmen and other artists, and it is now among the most recorded songs of all time. Despite signing away his rights to the song in 1959, Berry didn’t receive much money for authoring it until the 1980s. The song “Have Love, Will Travel,” which was written by him and released the same year, has been covered by numerous other musicians.
Berry went to Los Angeles with his family as a young child after being born on April 11, 1935, in Extension, a town south of Monroe, Louisiana. He was forced to use crutches until he was six years old due to a hip ailment he sustained as a toddler. He originally picked up the ukulele while attending a summer camp for kids with disabilities. Berry attended Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, where he performed vocal harmonies in the hallways with many other students.
He started out singing and playing in neighbourhood doo-wop bands, and he recorded with a number of them, including The Penguins, The Cadets and the Chimes, The Crowns, The Five Hearts, The Hunters, The Rams, The Whips, and the Dreamers, an otherwise all-female quintet from Fremont High. In 1953, he then joined The Flairs (also known as the Debonaires and the Flamingos), who also released music.
Berry’s bass vocals were heard on the Flairs’ 1953 Modern Records album “She Wants to Rock,” which was an early Leiber and Stoller creation. A few months later, when The Robins’ “Riot In Cell Block #9” on Spark Records needed a bass voice, the producers turned to Berry, who provided the ominous lead vocal – unacknowledged because he was under contract to Modern. Later, the Robins broke up. Two members joined Leiber & Stoller in New York to establish the Coasters, while three members stayed with the Robins. The Robins continued to make records in California (now with two additional members) for labels like Whippet, Lavender, Arvee, and others.
On her debut song and enormous smash “The Wallflower (Dance with Me, Henry)” and numerous of its less successful follow-ups, Berry’s voice was used at Modern, once again without credit. Berry also collaborated with a number of other bands on the Modern and Flair labels, such as the Dreamers and Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns (who later became The Blossoms). By the end of 1954, Berry split from the Flairs to start his own band, the Pharaohs, and he continued to perform and write songs for other bands.
The song was recorded by Richard Berry and the Pharaohs and issued on Flip Records in 1957 as the B-side of their rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” With sales of 130,000 copies, it became a modest regional success. After being re-released as an A-side, it gained popularity when the group performed in the Pacific Northwest and several regional R&B bands started to cover the song. With little indication of its calypso-like origins other than in its lyrics, “Louie Louie” finally became a significant smash when The Kingsmen’s boisterous rendition became a domestic and global hit in 1963. The week following the Kingsmen, Paul Revere & the Raiders also recorded the song in the same studio, but their rendition did not succeed. The song was banned by radio stations and even under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation because the virtually unintelligible (and innocent-sounding) lyrics were frequently misunderstood as indecent. More than a thousand recordings of the song exist. Berry sold the copyright for $750 in 1959 to pay for his wedding, thus for many years he received little financial compensation for its success. Berry remarked in 1993 “In those days, everyone sold their music. I never harbored resentment toward the record labels. They gave five young Black males a means of making a record.”
With little mainstream success, Berry continued to create and record songs until the early 1960s, including “Have Love, Will Travel” (which subsequently became a local hit for The Sonics), and he also continued to perform. Other tunes were The Rollins Band’s “Crazy Lover” and The Treniers’ “Oh! Oh! Get Out of the Car.”
Berry gave his final performance at Long Beach, California, in February 1996, when he reunited with the Pharaohs and the Dreamers for a charity event. Soon after, his health started to deteriorate, and he passed away in 1997 from heart failure.
Richard Berry Discography
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The First Song Of Richard Berry?
“Louie Louie” is the first song of Richard Berry. The song was originally written and performed by Berry in 1955, and it has since been covered by many other artists. “Louie Louie” is a simple, catchy tune with suggestive lyrics that have often been the subject of censorship. The song has been associated with numerous films and television shows over the years.
What Was Richard Berry Biggest Hit Album?
Richard Berry’s biggest hit album was “His Best.” It featured some of his most popular songs, including “Louie Louie” and “Maybellene.” It was a critical and commercial success, and helped to cement Berry’s place as one of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll.
What Genre Are The Richard Berry?
The Richard Berry are a R&B/soul group from New Orleans, Louisiana. They are best known for their song “Louie Louie”, which has been covered by hundreds of artists.
What Is The Richard Berry’S Most Famous Song?
“You Are My Sunshine” is Richard Berry’s most famous song. The song has been covered by many artists, including Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Willie Nelson. Berry wrote the song in 1957, and it has become a popular standard.