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D.L. Menard (1932 - 2017)

AP Photo / Dave Martin

D.L. Menard (1932 - 2017)

Cajun music star Doris Leon “D.L.” Menard, who earned the moniker the Cajun Hank Williams for songs such as “The Back Door,” died Thursday, July 27, 2017, according to the Daily Advertiser. He was 85.

Born April 14, 1932, in Erath, Louisiana, Menard began his career in music while still a teen, and continued performing throughout his life, last playing in public July 2, 2017, in his hometown, where he still resided. His signature song, “The Back Door,” was originally released in 1962 as “La Porte en Arriere.” The song, a tale of a tipsy man sneaking into his house by the back door, has become a standard for its genre, covered by dozens of artists and learned by nearly every musician of the category.

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Menard is also credited with innovating a now common style of guitar strumming in Cajun music, one that combines up-and-down strumming with bass note runs when the chords change.

“The Back Door” sold more than 500,000 copies in the year following its release and more than 1 million to date. Menard, who was nominated for Grammy awards in 1993 and 2010, is honored in both the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the Cajun Music Hall of Fame. In 1994, he was named a national heritage fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

While his music career flourished, including trips abroad with the U.S. State Department as a goodwill ambassador, Menard also maintained a career as an artisan chair maker.

Menard is survived by seven children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Louella.

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