Cajun musician D.L. Menard dies at 85

D.L. Menard of D.L. Menard and the Louisiana Aces performs during the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. (Photo: Dave Martin, AP)

UPDATE: 

Menard’s family will receive visitors beginning on Sunday, July 30th at Family Life Church, on Dulles Drive in Lafayette, from 2pm-10 p.m.

Visitation will resume Monday at Family Life Church at 8 a.m. until the time of funeral services at 3 p.m.

Menard will be laid to rest at Our Lady of Lourdes Cemetery in Erath.

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(The Daily Advertiser) – Singer and songwriter D. L. Menard, the creator of the Cajun music anthem “The Back Door,” died Wednesday night following a long illness. Menard’s daughter, Nelda Menard Pontiff, posted news of his death Thursday morning on Facebook.

Menard was 85. Funeral services are pending.

Born in 1932 in Erath, Menard became a beloved figure in folk music across the globe for his original songs, storytelling and comical personality. Nicknamed “The Cajun Hank Williams,” Menard was heavily influenced by the country music legend and often spoke about meeting him in 1951 at the Teche Club in New Iberia.

Inspired by Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues,” Menard wrote “The Back Door,” a French two-step about sneaking back home after a night of drinking and carousing. The song, composed in an hour while Menard worked at a gas station, became an immediate hit in 1962. It has since become Cajun music’s most popular song and reportedly has sold more than 500,000 copies.

Today, every Cajun band must play “The Back Door” at least once during every performance. The tune is often the first song that Cajun and zydeco accordion players learn.

“The Back Door” eventually brought Menard to more than 40 countries. In 2014, the song landed at No. 72 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time. Writer Richard Gehr called it “Cajun music’s most frequently covered song not titled ‘Jole Blon’.”

Menard’s other hits include “Under the Oak Tree,” “Rebecca Ann,” “She Didn’t Know I Was Married,” “Bachelor’s Life” and “La Valse de Jolly Rogers.”

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