Louisiana musician D.L. Menard, a Grammy-nominated entertainer known to many as the “Cajun Hank Williams,” He was also the writer and original performer of the 1962 hit, “La Porte En Arrière” (“The Back Door”), died Thursday, July 27th, at his granddaughter’s home in Scott, Louisiana, according to the New York Times. He was 85.
According to Cajun folklorist Barry Ancelet, “The Back Door” is the most played and recorded Cajun song of all time. Menard was inspired to write it after hearing Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues.” In the above clip, in which he performs the song with family band ‘L’Angélus, Menard jokes – in his thick Acadian accent – that the song’s popularity led to suggestions he should write a sequel called “The Front Door,” but that because of Louisiana’s intense humidity, he’s “been having trouble with the hinges.”
Born Doris Leon Menard on April 14th, 1932, in Erath, Louisiana, Menard was nominated for Best Traditional Folk Album (Le Trio Cadien) in 1993 and Best Zydeco or Cajun Album for Happy Go Lucky in 2010. A member of the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, he was a 1993 recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, presented by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. In 2002, Menard played guitar on Bryan Ferry’s LP, Frantic, backing the English rocker on Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene.”
Menard was preceded in death by his wife, Lou Ella Abshire, whom he married in 1952. She passed away in 2001. He is survived by daughter Rebecca Moreland and six sons – Doris Menard (called Boze), Kurt, Larry, Dick, Todd and Darrel – plus numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.