The south Minneapolis surf rock band The Chancellors recorded "Little Latin Lupe Lu" on October 13, 1964 at Kay Bank Studios in Minneapolis. The record was released under the Soma label in the United States and Apex Records in Canada. It was a regional hit for The Chancellors, arriving on the WDGY charts December 26, 1964 and reaching #1 in Minneapolis on January 23, 1965. The Chancellors remained at #1 for three weeks and in the Top 40 for 11 weeks. As "Little Latin Lupe Lu" faded from the Twin Cities’ charts, it appeared in Chicago on April 2, 1965. The Chancellors stayed in the WLS charts for seven weeks, peaking at #14.
The Kingsmen recorded a version of the song reaching #46 on the Billboard chart and #49 on the Cashbox chart in 1964. In 1966, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels had the most success with their recording, hitting #16 on Cashbox and #17 on Billboard. A few years later, the pioneering all-woman garage band The Heart Beats released a version where Lupe Lu was a boy.
"Little Latin Lupe Lu" is mentioned in the film High Fidelity (based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name) as track number 2 on Barry's (played by Jack Black) Monday-morning mix tape. The other employee, Dick, states that he prefers the version by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, which angers Barry due to his belief that The Righteous Brothers' original is the best version.