The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(Allen Toussaint)

Minit 623

No. 1    May 22, 1961





He was a wild one, that Ernie K-Doe–till the end.   Often dressed in iridescent apparel and huge gold rings,

he’d jump about like a banshee during his unsettling sets, flippin’ and trippin’  and rippin’ perfectly new

suits.  Even with an audience of 15 or less, Ernie K has been known to let loose.   “I don’t like to brag,” he

told Almost Slim, author of Walking to New Orleans, “but I still believe I can out-perform any man in

show business. Ernie K-Doe can stop any show at the drop of a hat.”


“Mother-in-Law” is possibly the finest record to ever emerge from the bubbling New Orleans scene of the

early ’60s, and Ernie performed it with conviction.   ‘”Mother-in-Law” wasn’t a hard song to sing,” he told

Dave Hoekstra of the Chicago Tribune, “because my mother-in-law was staying in my house.    I was

married 19 years, and it was 19 years of pure sorrow.    When I sang,  ‘Satan should be her name,’ I meant

that … Oooh, she was a lowdown.”


The way Ernie remembers it, he literally found “Mother-in­ Law” in an overstuffed garbage can:   “Allen

[Toussaint] had wrote it and thrown it away … I saw it in the garbage can and pulled it out.   I looked at the

words and said, ‘Hey man, this is good.   I want to do it.”‘   Others, like the tune’s creator, have disputed

Ernie’s tale.


He was born Ernest Kador, Jr., on February 22, 1936, in New Orleans, the ninth of eleven offspring.    His

dad was a Baptist minister.   For unreported reasons, Ernie’s aunt on his mom’s side raised him, and

religiously so.    He sang  in his Home Baptist Church, and toured with gospel groups while still a student

at Booker T. Washington High.


When he was 17, Ernie moved to Chicago, where he recorded his first solo and secular sides for United

Records (none of the four cuts have been officially released).   Back in New Orleans in 1954, K-Doe and

his Blue Diamonds began playing neighborhood clubs and bars.   Savoy Record’s Lee Magid spotted the

act at the Tijuana Club and set up a session for them:  only one single (“Honey Love” b/w “No Money”)

was released, though Specialty (“Do Baby Do”) and Ember (“Tuff Enough”) also issued some K-Doe sides.


Minit Records was set up by Joe Banashak in 1960; Ernie’s manager, Larry McKinley, was allegedly part-

owner of the operation.   “Mother-in-Law” was Ernie’s third single for the fledgling label.   It was Benny

Spellman–later noted for “Lipstick Traces” (#80, 1962) and the still later Rolling Stones revival “Fortune

Teller”–who provided the tunes hook with his deep intonation, in all the proper places, of the long-drawed

phrase “mother-in­ law.”


For the next couple of years, his 45s filed on to the charts– “Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta” (#53, 1961), “I Cried My

Last Tear” (#69, 1961) b/w “A Certain   Girl” (#71 ), and “Popeye Joe” (#99, 1962).   Even the ones that

didn’t sell well were solidly-crafted, and are now highly collectible efforts.      Eventually, his releases

became fewer and farther between.

“Oh, Ernie K-Doe slipped  up,” Ernie admitted to Almost Slim.   “But I have to believe that I’m going to the

top.    The only thing I know is singing and dancing.     Ernie K-Doe is going back to the top.  That’s all

there is to it.”


In the early ’80s, Ernie was been spotted occasionally hosting an R & B radio program on New  Orleans’

WWOZ.    In mid-’89 a compilation  cassette,  New Orleans:  A Musical Gumbo, was released; produced by

“Half a Head” Batiste, the work includes three new K-Doe sides.