Sometimes life is all in the timing. On May 22, 1961, “Runaway” by Del Shannon was finishing its four week run as the Number One song in the United States. Ricky Nelson and Roy Orbison both had songs climbing the charts, but neither were not quite ready to reach the summit. This left the door open for Ernest Kador, and one of the oddest Number One hits of the rock ‘n’ roll era.
Ernie K-Doe, 1936-2001, began his career as a member of The Blue Diamonds in the mid-1950s before going out on his own as a solo artist. He would continue to perform and record until his death.
Fifty-three years ago, he had the only big hit of his career, when “Mother-In-Law” topped the Billboard Pop Singles Chart for one week. It also topped the R&B charts for five weeks. The song was written by legendary New Orleans producer and composer Allen Toussaint.
During the 1980s Ernie K-Doe relocated back to his native New Orleans and became a noted disc jockey for several radio stations. He billed himself as “The Emperor Of The Universe” and became known for his colorful and outrageous concert antics, such as singing “Mother-In-Law” seven times in a row. He opened the Mother-In-Law Lounge in 1994 and ran it until his death at the age of 65.
The story did not end with his demise, however. In 2006 there was an Ernie K-Doe for mayor of New Orleans movement with the motto; “He’s the only one qualified.” Then there’s the play about his life, Burn K-Doe Burn, but that’s another story.
Ernie K-Doe got a lot of mileage from his only hit song. Fifty-Three years ago, he and his “Mother-In-Law” were on top of the music world.