Biography of Ernie K-Doe captures quirks, talent

Associated Press Modified: April 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm •  Published: April 28, 2012

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A new book captures the quirks and talent of one of New Orleans' most celebrated and eccentric entertainers, as well as his ups and downs and the era that shaped him.

The title of the book, published by the Historic New Orleans Collection, is "Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans." Later in life, K-Doe proclaimed himself the "Emperor of the World," and few fans would disagree with him.

K-Doe emerged in the early 1960s rock and R&B scene, and until his death at age 65 in 2001 was one of the most unforgettable figures in New Orleans music.

The book is the second for the Historic New Orleans Collection — a private collection of Louisiana materials and a museum — which plans a series on the shapers of regional music. The first — "Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man" — focused on jazz composer-producer Harold Battiste Jr. and was published in 2010.

Author Ben Sandmel, who lives and plays music in New Orleans and knows the city's quirky music community, tells K-Doe's story in lively detail and colorful anecdotes.

He opens the book with an incident that took place at K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge, named after the song that took him to national fame in 1961.

K-Doe, whose birth name was Ernest Kador Jr., called the police during a performance in 2000 to report a robbery. When the cops showed up, guns drawn, K-Doe said the robbery was a man taping his performance. Not only could police do little about the alleged intellectual theft, the man turned out to be a New York Times critic planning an article "to let people know about Mr. K-Doe."

That sort of incident was not unusual for the man who made his motto, "I'm cocky but I'm good."

K-Doe followed up his original hit with a string of national hits. While it's difficult to say just how much his style influenced Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin, they and other performers hung out with K-Doe when they came to New Orleans on tour.

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