It is with sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother and friend Jack Ely. Jack, 71, a native of Portland, Oregon died at his home in Redmond, Oregon Monday after battling an illness.
Jack was born September 11, 1943 to Cherie and Ken Ely and his sister Jill. Cherie remarried following the death of Ken to Robely Nelson and a second sister Sharon completed their family. Jack’s love of music began at an early age at the piano guided by his mother and father whom both had an affinity for music. He knew he wanted to be a musician after seeing Elvis Presley on television as a kid.
Spurred on by his love of music Jack and friend Lynn Easton co-founded The Kingsmen in high school. Little did he know that playing supermarket openings and malt shops would later vault them to music icons.
Jack is best known for being the voice of Louie Louie notably one of the greatest rock-n-roll songs of the 20th century. Jack recorded the tune with the Kingsmen in a makeshift studio in 1962. The song went on to become an iconic rock track that rolls on today reaching #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1963. In 2013 Rolling Stone ranked it 54th of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Louie Louie became such a sensation that kids across the country were singing along to the
raucous party song, the problem was that many couldn’t understand the garbled words which resulted from Jack’s singing into a boom mic high above his head. This led to allegations that the song was pornographic and an FBI investigation which concluded that the song “was unintelligible at any speed.”
Later, Jack was an outspoken supporter of the Performance Rights Act which would give royalty rights to artists for music played over the radio, was involved with Rockers Against Drugs and was part of the prevailing side in a landmark music rights case that was decided at the Supreme Court.
His most recent musical endeavor was the 2011 release of the CD Love is All Around You Now a compilation of original works.
Jack later settled in Terrebonne, Oregon and parlayed his second love: Arabian horses into a business, Equine Etiquette a horse training company. A cowboy at heart, he loved living in Central Oregon sporting his hat and boots and riding his horses.
No grass ever grew under Jack’s feet, as he took on life with an indomitable spirit moving with purpose from one endeavor to the next. If ever there were one who embodied the manifestation of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden it was him, for he truly sucked out the marrow of life.
For all he accomplished he shall be remembered, but at its core his ability to love was his greatest strength and success.
He was a Christian Scientist and played an active role in his church particularly as a soloist sharing his wide versatility in making music for the congregation. This is where he met and fell in love with Wendy Ely whom he married and has shared his life these many years. She has taken loving care of him until his passing.
Jack is survived by his three children Rob Ely of Honolulu, Hawaii, Sean Ely of Portland, Oregon and Sierra Ely of Memphis, Tennessee, two daughters by marriage Crystal Rein and Sheri Christiansen, two sisters Jill Zander of Auburn, California and Sharon Laurence of Seattle, Washington, six grandchildren Zac, Bianca, Britany, Brandon, Kyler and Jordan and two great grandchildren Rietta and Jadeynn.
The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks the Hospice of Redmond as well as Baird Funeral Homes for helping Jack along in his final journey.