The Story and Music of Chris Kenner


Introduction to Chris Kenner

Chris Kenner was an R&B singer and songwriter originating from New Orleans.  He started his recording career under Baton Records, and in 1957 Kenner recorded and released “Sick and Tired” under Imperial.  It didn’t give a hit for him, but it otherwise did for Fats Domino when he covered it the following year.  In the early 1960s music scene Kenner collaborated with musician-composer-producer Allen Toussaint when the former moved to Instant label.  This partnership yielded the hit song “I Like It Like That.” In 1962 he released the eventual hit “Land of a Thousand Dances”.  He was also known for his songs that became hits for other artists, including Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper” (which Kenner co-wrote) as well as “Land of 1,000 Dances” (notably by Wilson Pickett) and “I Like It Like That” (a #6 hit for The Dave Clark Five in 1965).  Kenner passed away in 1976 due to a heart attack.  He was only 46.

The early life and music of Chris Kenner

Chris Kenner is the late American R&B singer and songwriter best remembered for his 1961 hit single “I Like It Like That.” Born on December 25, 1929 in Kenner, Louisiana, he spent most of his early years in New Orleans where he started as a church choir member. In 1955, Kenner had his first recording and was signed to Baton Records, a small label based in New York.

Kenner’s recording journey with his biggest hit “I Like It Like That”

Kenner switched to Imperial Records in 1957 and cut a single called “Sick and Tired.” The song did not become hit for him but for Fats Domino who re-recorded it the following year. However in 1960, he became noticeable when he issued “Rocket to The Moon” and “Life Is Just a Struggle” for Ron Records.

In the spring of 1961, Kenner moved to Instant, another New Orleans-based label where he started to work with pianist and arranger Allen Toussaint. With their collaboration, they produced the song “I Like It Like That” that would give Kenner his first and biggest hit. The song ranked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it also became a million-selling record, being given a gold disc designation by the RIAA. By that year, the successful single was followed by low-charting ones such as “A Very True Story” and “I Don’t Like It Like That.”

In 1962, Kenner produced the song “Land of a Thousand Dances.” Although the song only gained a little popularity, it became Kenner’s most covered song, being performed by several artists including Ted Nugent, The Action, Thee Midniters, Wilson Pickett, The Electric Indian, Cannibal & the Headhunters, Patti Smith etc. Kenner’s biggest hit “I Like It Like That” was later covered by the Dave Clark Five in 1965. In 1966, he issued an LP for Atlantic Records called Land of a Thousand Dances (which saw a reissued as a CD format in 2007).

From mid-1960s to early 1970’s, he continued to release singles for a variety of small labels, never having another hit. On the other hand, Kenner also gave hits to other artists as well, among of which were “Something You’ve Got” performed by Alvin Robinson in 1964 and “Here Comes the Hotstepper,” a 1994 chart-topping hit for Ini Kamoze.

In 1968, Kenner was caught in a controversy being charged and eventually convicted of statutory rape. He later served three years at a prison in Louisiana prison. On January 25, 1976, Kenner passed away due to a heart attack, aged 46.

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