Book Review: 33 Revolutions Per Page

Tall tales of Texas and beyond

33 Revolutions Per Page

Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans

by Ben Sandmel
The Historic New Orleans Collection, 225 pp., $39.95

The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is ambitious, but never overstated in its oversized and eye-poppingly gorgeous hardback that brims about the singer who called himself "Emperor of the Universe." To author and true believer Ben Sandmel, New Orleans didn't get any more royal than Ernie K-Doe – as the vintage photos and rich, scholarly text attest. That's saying a lot, given that K-Doe's contemporaries include the iconic Fats Domino, Aaron Neville, and Little Richard. The man born Ernest Kador Jr. boasted a string of funky regional hits ("Certain Girl," "Hello My Lover") before conquering the nation with 1961's "Mother-in-Law," and held court at his Mother-in-Law Lounge until his death in 2001. His brilliantly colorful and often self-sabotaged career ultimately revived through the true love he found with his last wife, Antoinette, and while that's a sweet coda, it's the searing stories of life in New Orleans for a man laid to rest wearing a crown that make this book – much like John Swenson's New Atlantis last year – an absolutely essential Gulf Coast read.

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