“Mother-in-Law” could be considered a novelty song. I guess it depends if you like your mother-in-law or not. Ernie K-Doe certainly has some issues with his. The song was written by Allen Toussaint, who was an American songwriter, musician, arranger and producer from New Orleans. He had a long career in music and wrote many hits for many different people. When he wrote “Mother-in-Law,” he was working with many singers, one of which was Ernie K-Doe.
Toussaint had thrown the song away, thinking it was not really recordable. Ernie fished the song out of the trash and asked to at least try to record it. Toussaint said ok, and they had a hit. The piano playing on “Mother-in-Law” is done by Toussaint. The deep bass singer you hear on the record who says the words, “Mother-in-Law” is Benny Spellman. Ernie was having trouble with his own mother-in-law at the time and that’s why he wanted to record the song. I can’t imagine what happened when he got home to face his own mother-in-law after referring to her as someone who was “sent from down-below” which, I assume, is hell.
Ernie K-Doe’s real name was Ernest Kador, Jr. and he was born in 1933 in New Orleans. He was the ninth of eleven children and his father was a preacher, so he got ample opportunity to sing in church. As a teenager, his father and mother had split up and she moved to Chicago. When Ernie went to Chicago to visit her, she had him sing in a few clubs there, so Ernie got the singing/performing bug and brought that back to New Orleans.
He joined Specialty Records first which is the label Little Richard recorded under. He recorded in the same studio where Little Richard recorded. Then he moved to Minit Records and there met Allen Toussaint.
Ernie spent most of his life as a disc jockey on various New Orleans radio stations. He performed whenever he could, but was never the star he wanted to be. He died in 2001 of kidney and liver failure after a lifetime of alcoholism. He received the traditional jazz funeral from the city of New Orleans and his friends.
“Mother-in-Law” is the only hit Ernie K-Doe had, but it was a good one. It entered the pop chart on April 3, 1961 and stayed at number one for one week.