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Ernie K-Doe at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, 1996
|Birth name||Ernest Kador, Jr.|
|Born||February 22, 1936|
|Origin||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Died||July 5, 2001(aged 65)|
|Labels||Specialty, Minit, Instant|
|Associated acts||Benny Spellman
Ernest Kador, Jr. (February 22, 1936 – July 5, 2001), known by the stage name Ernie K-Doe, was an African American R&B singer best known for his 1961 hit single "Mother-in-Law" which went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart in the U.S.
Born in New Orleans, K-Doe recorded as a member of the group 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 charted in the R&B top 40.
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 (occasionally causing problems for the non-commercial station). K-Doe's catch phrases included "Burn, K-Doe, Burn!" "I'm a Charity Hospital Baby!" and (addressed to himself) "You just good, that's all!". For a time he billed himself as "Mister Naugahyde" until he was ordered to desist by the owners of the Naugahyde trademark. K-Doe then explained that it was a misunderstanding; he was actually referring to himself as "Mister M-Nauga-Ma-Hyde", a word he invented himself.
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. Always 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." While best known as a singer, he was also an accomplished drummer.
The song "Here Come the Girls" was released in 1970 in England, but was not a hit. It was re-released in 2007 as a result of its use in an advertising campaign for "Boots" stores and reached No. 43. A cover by the Sugababes reached No.3 in the UK charts in 2008.
K-Doe died in 2001 of kidney and liver failure from years of alcoholism. After a traditional jazz funeral, he 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, Earl King.
His widow, Antoinette K-Doe, continued to operate his music club/bar, "Ernie K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge," which housed 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 at 1500 N. Claiborne Avenue.
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 -- that's my opinion." Although K-Doe's name did not appear on the ballot, "his" campaign generated revenue from T-shirt and bumper sticker sales. Antoinette used the proceeds from these sales toward rebuilding the Mother-in-Law Lounge, as well as providing help to the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, both of which were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
In November 2007 the British-based high street beauty store and pharmacy Boots used his 1970 performance of the song "Here Come the Girls" as the soundtrack to a Christmas TV commercial. This led to the song's being re-released as single in the UK in December 2007, and a new Boots commercial featuring the song was aired between June and August 2008 with a summer theme. The same song was also sampled on the Sugababes' single "Girls", which was then itself used in another Boots commercial in November 2008.
Antoinette died in New Orleans on February 24, 2009, Mardi Gras day, after suffering a massive heart attack.
In 2009 Ernie K-Doe was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
- Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans by Ben Sandmel, 2012, ISBN 978-0-917860-60-7 http://www.erniekdoebook.com/
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