Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5: Ernie K-Doe - "Mother-in-Law" - died on this date in 2001...

... he was 65 years-old when he passed away.

Born Ernest Kador, Jr. in New Orleans, Ernie was a member of the Blue Diamonds in 1954 before making his first solo recordings the following year. "Mother-in-Law," written by Allen Toussaint, was his first hit, and was #1 on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts.

 K-Doe never had another top-40 pop hit, but 1961's "Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta" (#21) and 1967's "Later For Tomorrow" (#37) both made the R&B top 40. While best known as a singer, he was also an accomplished drummer.

In the 1980s K-Doe did radio shows on New Orleans community stations WWOZ and WTUL. The shows were known for his explosively energetic announcements and frequent self promotion. K-Doe's catch phrases included "Burn, K-Doe, Burn!" "I'm a Charity Hospital Baby!"

He called himself "Mister Naugahyde" until he was ordered to desist by the owners of the Naugahyde trademark.

In the 1990s K-Doe began billing himself as "The Emperor of the Universe" and wearing a cape and crown he became a famous local eccentric on the New Orleans scene. K-Doe continued performing and occasionally recording until shortly before his death.

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An elaborate showman, one of K-Doe's most notable later performances was at New Orleans' Aquarium of the Americas where he performed at a benefit for a local group aiding people with disabilities. The show ended with K-Doe performing seven continuous renditions of "Mother In Law" while dancing in front of the Gulf of Mexico shark tank exhibit dressed in a green plumed cape. Later recordings of note include "White Boy, Black Boy."

The song 'Here Come The Girls' was released in 1970 in England, but was not a hit. It was re-released in 2007 and made No. 43. A cover by the Sugababes made No.3 in the UK charts in 2008.

K-Doe died in 2001 and, after a traditional jazz funeral, was interred in the 200-year-old Duval tomb in Saint Louis Cemetery #2, in his native New Orleans. He had burial space in his father's family cemetery in Erwinville, LA, but his widow, Antoinette, as well as his fans and friends in New Orleans, wanted his remains in the city, so the Duval family offered him some of their burial space. He is buried in the same tomb with his second mother-in-law, with whom he was very close, and his best friend, legendary Earl King.

His widow, Antoinette K-Doe, continued to operate his music club/bar, "Ernie K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge," which houses a life-size statue of K-Doe himself. The club was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in late 2005 and had to shut down.

With the help of the Hands on Network and the musical artist, Usher Raymond, Antoinette reopened the Mother-in-Law Lounge on August 28, 2006 in its original location.

Antoinette also led a tongue-in-cheek campaign for K-Doe's election for mayor of hurricane-ravaged New Orleans in 2006, five years after his death. She is quoted as saying "He's the only one qualified ...." Antoinette died in New Orleans on February 24, 2009, the Mardi Gras day, after suffering a massive heart attack.

In 2009 Ernie K-Doe was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.


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