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Ernie K-Doe, R&B Emperor

Getty Images / Archive Photos / Paul Natkin / Contributor

Ernie K-Doe, R&B Emperor

Ernie K-Doe was one of the many unique characters that make Louisiana great. With his quirky rhythm and blues music and outrageous antics, the New Orleans native fit right in with The Big Easy.

A new book published by the Historic New Orleans Collection, "Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans," by Ben Sandmel, captures the quirks and talent of one of New Orleans' most celebrated and eccentric entertainers, his ups and downs and the era that shaped him.

K-Doe's first – and only – big hit came in 1961. It was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to, in K-Doe's words, "the worst person I know" – "Mother-in-Law."


"Mother-in-Law" rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. K-Doe wasn't destined to reach those heights again, but he had a modest hit with "Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta," from the same year.




After his musical success in the 1960s, Ernie K-Doe moved on to new frontiers – working as a radio disc jockey and becoming a favorite eccentric of the New Orleans community. He wore a cape and crown around town, putting on ever more elaborate shows (like the time when he sang "Mother-in-Law" seven times in a row in front of the Aquarium of the Americas shark tank). He became a local legend for his costumes, catch phrases and energetic dancing, and his talent and antics won him a place in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.





Ernie K-Doe died July 5, 2001. Given his stature in his hometown community, it's fitting that he was remembered with a traditional jazz funeral – and we can only imagine the dancing he inspired.

Written by Linnea Crowther