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Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans (Louisiana Musicians Biography) Hardcover – April 12, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Louisiana Musicians Biography
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Historic New Orleans Collection; 1 edition (April 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0917860608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0917860607
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.2 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

I love this book. Ben Sandmel has captured and conveyed the loopy genius, linguistic and musical, that was Ernie K-Doe, self-anointed Emperor of the Universe, and a character par excellence in a city full of larger-than-life characters. Ernie K-Doe put them all in the shade, and Ben Sandmel tells you how. The prose is lively, the quotations generous, the photos and graphics spectacular. This is one of the five essential books on New Orleans culture. You gotta get it. --Eric Overmyer, cocreator of HBO s Treme

Ben Sandmel tells K-Doe s story for real here, plus the stories of lots of other cats that I knew and gigged with and loved. This is a very cool book. --Mac Rebennack (Dr. John), Grammy-winning musician and songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee

Ben Sandmel tells Ernie K-Doe s tale with respect and sensitivity, scholarly research, a musician s inside understanding, and considerable wit. A compelling, lively and well-written. look at the irresistible music and street culture of New Orleans, as performed and lived by one of its most memorable talents. --Tavis Smiley, Broadcaster, philanthropist, and author of the best-seller What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America

A vital, loving chronicle of the colorful life and frequently hard times of the New Orleans R&B singer and self-styled Emperor of the Universe. To many, Ernie K-Doe (1936 2001) is a one-hit wonder: His evergreen oldie Mother-in-Law topped the pop and R&B charts in 1961. But to New Orleans journalist Sandmel (Zydeco!, 1999), the vocalist was much more, and this smart, funny and richly designed and illustrated book makes a rousing case for the musician as a quintessential Crescent City figure. Born Ernest Kador Jr. in the city s Charity Hospital, K-Doe authored his hit single and other lively R&B tracks for local Minit Records, but a follow-up smash proved elusive. While he maintained a hometown profile as a hardworking performer in the James Brown/Joe Tex mold, K-Doe was best known for years as a DJ on New Orleans WWOZ. There, his lunatic manner, unique lexicon and stream-of-consciousness raps cemented his status as a NoLa institution. Megalomania, alcoholism and a propensity for professional bridge burning left him virtually homeless by the late 80s. However, he enjoyed a second act in the 90s after he opened his famed Mother-in-Law Lounge with wife Antoinette, who restored him personally and professionally. The club, which often doubled as the K-Does living room, attracted a crowd of tourists, oddball locals, young musicians and journalists (including the New York Times Neil Strauss, who had a notorious set-to with the eccentric proprietors while on assignment in 2000). K-Doe s saga didn t end with his death: He maintained a bizarre afterlife at the Mother-in-Law and around town in the form of a life-sized sculpture created by local artist Jason Poirier. Though severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the lounge was restored and run by Antoinette until her death in 2009. Despite a multitude of personal faults, K-Doe emerges here as hilarious, complex and indomitable a larger-than-life character altogether worthy of inclusion in the pantheon of his city s oversized musical titans. A vital, essential addition to the shelf of great books about New Orleans. --Kirkus, starred review

Ben Sandmel tells Ernie K-Doe s tale with respect and sensitivity, scholarly research, a musician s inside understanding, and considerable wit. A compelling, lively and well-written. look at the irresistible music and street culture of New Orleans, as performed and lived by one of its most memorable talents. --Tavis Smiley, Broadcaster, philanthropist, and author of the best-seller What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America

About the Author

Ben Sandmel is a New Orleans based journalist, folklorist, drummer, and producer. His articles about Louisiana music have appeared in national publications, including The Atlantic, and have been anthologized in such collections as Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 and From Jubilee to Hip Hop: Readings in African American Music. Sandmel has written liner notes for over a hundred albums. He is also the author of Zydeco!, a collaborative book with photographer Rick Olivier. Sandmel has worked for the Louisiana Folklife Program as a field researcher and writer documenting traditional music and occupational folklore. He produces the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage, an oral history venue at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He has produced and played on four albums, including the Grammy-nominated Deep Water by the Cajun/western swing band the Hackberry Ramblers.

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Customer Reviews

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I throw myself into as much as I can.
Kathy F. Cannata
K-Doe is an artist well worth knowing from this book and from his music and Ben Sandmel has written a wonderful book about him.
Charles P. Miller
I do wish there were more photos but actually there are a lot for a book like this -- I just want a photo on every page.
John Preble

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ziggy on May 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"There have only been five great singers of Rhythm and Blues - Ernie K-Doe, James Brown, and Ernie K-Doe" Thus spoke Ernie K-Doe in his acceptance speech for the R&B Foundation Pioneer Award in 1998. If you like that line, you'll love this book! Best known for his 1961 #1 Hit Record "Mother-In-Law" Ernie K-Doe (born Kador) was a musician from New Orleans and that's just the start of the story. Ben Sandmel has lived there for several decades and that's about the time you need to see beneath the tourist veneer of the town into the surrealistic urban swamp that is the real New Orleans. There is so much more to this culture than you can pick up visiting Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras, you have to live here for it to grow on you. Starting in the 1950s and continuing up through Katrina, Sandmel details life on the street, in the recording studios, at the clubs, and on the road for Ernie and New Orleans' musicians in general. This isn't the only book to look at New Orleans in this way, but this is certainly the most entertaining. Whether it's girl friends with bullet wounds or food stamps as a wedding gift, Ernie K-Doe was a fascinating person in an unusual place. He was the self-proclaimed "Emperor Of The World" and tapes of his radio show on WWOZ have been collected and traded like they were Grateful Dead concerts. This is a very serious book about a clown and one of the best books about New Orleans ever assembled. Check the photos! Some amazing shots of Ernie with Sam Cooke, Page & Plant, Paul McCartney, and Harry Connick, Jr. (as some sort of Jr. G-Man). Ernie K-Doe may be gone, but his statue parties on.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lord Summerisle on June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of New Orleans music and a lover of well-made books you owe it to yourself to pick up Sandmel's 'Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans. It's a fitting tribute to one of NOLA's most entertaining and idiosyncratic performers. The book is fat, heavy, beautifully designed, packed with color and black-and-white photos, and manages to be both scholarly and entertaining.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Preble on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I really liked this book. The details about the New Orleans R&B scene are terrific. The author dug deep real deep. There's no filler or fluff. It is funny OMG. This book will be a classic - not only from the information but also because it is so well written. If you have never heard of New Orleans or R&B this book could still be a pleasure to read. I do wish there were more photos but actually there are a lot for a book like this -- I just want a photo on every page. There are too many interesting stories about big name and no name musicians for me to remember - I will definitely read it more than once. This book will put Ernie K-Doe up there with James Brown and Little Richard as one of the crazeees of rock.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Eskow on July 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ben Sandmel has written one of the three greatest music books I've ever read, on a par with Charles Mingus' Beneath the Underdog and Mezz Mezzrow's Really the Blues. You don't need any prior interest in Ernie K-Doe to savor its joys; you only need to be open to story after story of rich human eccentricity, the New Orleans kind in particular. These are stories you yearn to tell your friends--whether it's a penniless K-Doe going to a wedding where everyone's supposed to pin dollars to the bride's wedding-gown, and pinning food-stamps there instead; or the tales of female impersonators in 1950s roadhouses...but virtually every page contains a great story. And Sandmel has found the perfect tone--slyly funny, but truly respectful--to tell them all.

The volume itself, as others have noted, is a marvellous piece of book-craft. As someone who's read many hundreds of books about R&B, New Orleans, and black musical history, I urge anyone on the fence about the purchase to spring for it.
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Format: Hardcover
I got to experience New Orleans music icon Ernie-K-Doe in two different ways over a nearly 50-year period. Back in the early 1960s K-Doe (whose birth name was Kadot) played a rock and roll show in my home town in New Jersey, where I was a go-fer for a radio station, when his only hit record "Mother-in-Law" topped both the pop and R&B chart. In 2009, while on my second visit to the Crescent City for a sound recording conference, a friend told me about Ernie-K-Doe's Mother in Law Lounge and we hailed a cab to check it out. It was mid afternoon but K-Doe's stepdaughter (who was running the unique venue since her mother - K-Doe's second wife, Antoinette - died) let us in and showed us around. I couldn't stop taking photos. This "shrine" to one of NOLa' most unique characters, including the life-size statue of the singer, sitting on a throne, was one of the most unique places I've seen. Six months later the Lounge was shuttered and it sits abandoned, though the murals on the walls are still there (though decaying).

Both of these moments came back to me in both words and photos as I read through NOLa musician and author Ben Sandmel's bio of K-Doe, the second in the wonderful "Louisiana Musicians Biography" series from the non-profit Historic New Orleans Collection. (The first was devoted to record producer Harold Battiste Jr. and was published in 2010.)

As you read through the 304 pages, you pass 137 images of rare photos and memorabilia (ad signs for concerts) reproduced in glorious color, and learn a lot about the self-proclaimed "R&B Emperor of New Orleans". Sandmel takes a unique route to tell the story: He begins with MIL Lounge and it's significance to NOLa.
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