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Ernie K-Doe: In the Spotlight

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Ernie K-Doe: In the Spotlight

Ernie K-Doe in the early '60s

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Born:

Ernest Kador, Jr., born February 22, 1936, New Orleans, LA; died July 5, 2001, New Orleans, LA

Styles:

New Orleans Soul, R&B Instruments:

Vocals

Claims to fame:

  • One of the most beloved entertainers in New Orleans Soul
  • His 1961 hit "Mother In Law" introduced the genre to the pop charts
  • "A Certain Girl" was a major influence on the British "mod" community of the '60s
  • Became a beloved eccentric and DJ in his hometown after his initial success

Early years:

The man who would become K-Doe began his musical career at an early age, singing in the choir of his father's Baptist church, and by the age of 17 he'd already made a local name for himself, singing with gospel vocal groups like The Zion Travelers and the Golden Chain Jubilee Singers. By that time, however, hard R&B had begun to overtake gospel in popularity, and Kador was bit by the bug, traveling to Chicago to make a name for himself. After winning a local amateur night, he was invited to join the fledgling doo-wop group the Flamingos and, later, the Moonglows. Moving back to New Orleans in the 1950s, he began singing with local vocal group the Blue Diamonds, and it was there that the Los Angeles-based Specialty label added him to its roster of NOLA artists, at first as Ernie Kado.

Success:

Success was hard to come by, however, until K-Doe (now his performing name) signed to the new Minit label, which featured a songwriter by the name of Allen Toussaint. While digging through Allen's garbage, Ernie found lyrics for a song called "Mother In Law" and, identifying with the lyrics from his own marriage, convinced Allen to let him record it. It was a major smash, going straight to #1 on both the pop and R&B charts and establishing Toussaint as a songwriter of note. A few minor hits followed on the R&B charts, and his songs were beloved by Britain's burgeoning "mod" scene, but by the end of the decade his career was effectively over.

Later years:

Sadly, depression and a long struggle with alcoholism followed, but by the early '80s K-Doe had begun a remarkable comeback, at least on the New Orleans level, beginning with his flamboyant stint as a DJ on local roots-music mainstay WWOZ. Talking )and occasionally complementing himself) over his favorite R&B records, K-Doe became beloved to natives, and soon opened the legendarily ramshackle "Mother In Law Lounge" near the city's historic Treme neighborhood. There he held court, honing his outrageous stage show and declaring himself "Emperor of the Universe." His death in 2001 brought most of New Orleans' leading musical lights out to pay homage. 

Ernie K-Doe awards and honors:

  • Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award (1997)
  • Louisiana Music Hall of Fame (1995)
  • New Orleans Music Hall of Fame (1995)
  • Big Easy Heritage Award (1999)

Ernie K-Doe facts and trivia:

  • His widow, Antoinette K-Doe, kept Ernie's legacy alive after his death, dressing up a mannequin in his clothes and driving it around in his place, and even running him posthumously for Mayor
  • Once played with Joe Tex in his early days at the city's historic R&B club, the Dew Drop Inn
  • Was noted for once claiming that "all music comes from New Orleans"
  • "Mother in Law" was originally played at a much faster speed, but the final take was about half as fast
  • Once locked a New York Times reporter in the Mother In Law Lounge when he mistakenly thought his show was being recorded
  • Known for his trademark phrase "Burn, K-Doe, Burn!," pronounced as "boin"
  • His song "Here Come The Girls" became a minor UK hit in 2007

Ernie K-Doe hit songs and albums:

#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "Mother In Law" (1961)
R&B:
  • "Mother In Law" (1961)

Other notable Ernie K-Doe recordings:

"Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta," "A Certain Girl," "Here Come The Girls," "'T'aint It the Truth," "I Cried My Last Tear," "Hello My Lover," "Waiting at the Station," "Wanted $10,000 Reward," "Popeye Joe," "Real Man," "Heeby Jeebies," "I'm the Boss," "Make You Love Me," "Rub Dub Dub," "I Got to Find Somebody," "Hurry up and Know It," "Back Street Lover," "There's a Will, There's a Way," "Get out of My House," "I Love You the Best," "Easier Said Than Done," "Reaping What I Sow," "Beating Like a Tom Tom," "Loving You," "Be Sweet," "The Fight (Grandma and Grandpa)," "Baby Since I Met You," "Lonelyology (For Your Love)," "She's Waiting," "Penny Worth of Happiness," "A Place Where We Can Be Free," "Whoever Is Thrilling You (Is Killing Me)," "I'm Only Human," "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye," "Fly Away with Me," "A Long Way Back Home," "Lawdy Mama," "Talkin' 'Bout This Woman," "Hotcha Mama," "(I Can't Believe) She Gave It All to Me," "(It Will Have To Do) Until The Real Thing Comes Along," "Later for Tomorrow"

Covered by: Elvis Costello, The Kingsmen, The Animals, Fats Domino, Jimmy Page, Huey Lewis and the News, Warren Zevon, The Yardbirds, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Levon Helm, Eric Clapton and B.B. King, Frankie Ford, The Nomads, The Paramounts, The Hollywood Argyles, ¡Cubanismo!

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