Book Reviews

Ben Sandmel – Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans

Death, birth, geography, friends and luck all have a say in whether or not we succeed. But even without the catchy name, Ernest Kador, Jr. was destined for stardom. Where else could a self-proclaimed “Charity Hospital baby” with such confidence and drive end up?

After his monster hit “Mother-in-Law” topped both the pop and R&B charts, K-Doe made the rounds: high-flyer, then destitution, alcoholism, homelessness. Oh, sure, he had a few other minor hits, but nowhere near M-I-L’s cachet. Then, as he’s often said, he found love. That love, Antoinette, became both his muse and his guidance counselor, and K-Doe became the (also self-proclaimed) “Emperor of the World,” spending his remaining years reigning over his new kingdom: the Mother-in-Law Lounge, and New Orleans itself.

 Ernie K-Doe, Antoinette, the Mother-in-Law Lounge and much of pre-Katrina N’Awlins are all gone now, but Sandmel’s colorful, oversized book lives and perfectly captures it all. It’s exhaustively researched, extensively quoted and loaded with photographs all printed on heavy stock paper and lovingly published by The Historic New Orleans Collection, making it suitable for your library, where you’ll read it again and again. With the imprimatur of Peter Guralnick’s forward, it’s a sure thing.

Lou Novacheck

Got something to say?