Ernie K-Doe and his hit “Mother-in-Law”

Introduction to Ernie K-Doe

Ernest Kador Jr., aka Ernie K-Doe, was an American R&B singer known for his hit song, “Mother-In-Law” in 1961. After his stint as a member of the group Blue Diamonds, he became a solo artist and was signed to Minit label in the late 50s.  His first single flopped, but the follow-up “Hello My Lover” was a regional hit.  K-Doe hit big-time with “Mother-In-Law” in 1961.  His following singles also reached the charts, but none of them went even almost as high as “Mother-In-Law” did.  In his later years, he worked in radio programs in New Orleans, and continued performing occasionally.  He passed away in 2001.

Early life 

The late R&B singer Ernie K-Doe was born Ernest Kador Jr. on February 22, 1933 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kador was raised by Ernest Kador Sr. along with his ten other siblings. Since his father was a Baptist preacher, he used to sing in his father’s church and local gospel groups like Golden Chain Jubilee Singers and the Zion Travellers to name a few. When he reached the age of 17, he lived with his mother in Chicago where he also began singing in clubs.  Because he was underage, he needed permission slips signed by his mother. Around 1953, Kador was introduced to United Records producer/promoter Dave Clark. With Clark, Kador cut a four-song session but unfortunately, these tracks were still unreleased until 1995.

Ernie K-Doe’s music career

In 1954, Kador came back to New Orleans where he formed his own group, the Blue Diamonds. He soon left the group after recording one single with them. In 1955, Kador was spotted by Specialty Records A&R man Bumps Blackwell who helped him to get signed in his label. Although he did two solo sessions for Specialty, only one was issued which was “Do Baby Do”/”Eternity.” About three decades later, K-Doe’s three previously unreleased tracks appeared on the various artists album Lay That New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Down.

From 1955 to 1959, Kador continued to release singles but none of them made any commercial impact. During the early 60s music period, career started to pick up when he released his single from Minit label, “Mother-in-Law.”  Written by Allen Toussaint, “Mother-in-Law” became Kador’s first hit, chart topping both pop and R&B charts in 1961. Later that same year, he released another single “Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta,” which was not as a big hit as the first but made still peaked at #21 on the pop charts. It was followed with two singles from Minit (“A Certain Girl” and “Popeye Joe”) but they failed to sell.  In 1967, he returned to R&B charts with the Top 40 hit “Late for Tomorrow.”

During the 1980’s, Kador was doing radio shows in New Orleans community stations WWOZ and WTUL where he was known with his energetic way of hosting and catchphrases — “Burn, K-Doe, burn!,” “I’m a charity hospital baby,” and  “You just good, that’s all!”

An alcoholic, Ernie K-Doe died from kidney and liver failure in July 2001. He was 65 years old.