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5.0 out of 5 stars Ernie K-Doe leads the parade!, May 14, 2012
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This review is from: Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans (Louisiana Musicians Biography) (Hardcover)
"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. Let me close with a quote from Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis - "When you think of the New Orleans musical landscape of incredible greater-than-life characters: James Booker, Earl King, Professor Longhair, Snooks Eaglin - people that in every way were unique personalities, unique talent, and just really surrealistic characters - I think Ernie K-Doe has to pretty much lead that parade."
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