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5 Interesting Facts You Should Know About Doug Kershaw

Doug Kershaw Facts

A Cajun rock and roll star, a music icon, a sensational American fiddle player; you name it! If anyone deserves huge respect among legendary fiddlers in the 60s, Doug Kershaw should be at the top of the list. A prodigy in singing and fiddle virtuoso with humble beginnings in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, Doug is a superstardom to remember. 

Whether it’s about singing, playing the guitar, or stroking the fiddle strings, he has enjoyed an iconic career for about 70 decades. From his early life to turning into his 80s, here are some interesting facts you need to know about the talented musician Doug Kershaw.

1. The Louisiana blood runs in his veins

Born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, on January 24, 1936, Doug was influenced by Cajun music when his parents used to host parties at their family’s houseboat. His first performance was at Louisiana’s local bar, Bucket of Blood. 

In the 1960s, Doug’s top-ten single “Louisiana Man” redefined his career after he recorded it with his brother Rusty. It soon became the standard for contemporary Cajun music and was covered by about 800 artists, including The Seekers, Bobbie Gentry, and Rick Nelson! With millions of copies sold, Doug decided to part ways with his brother and pursue a solo career. 

Well, it would be safe to say that he owes his success to his Louisiana roots.

2. A musical genius who speaks 2 languages

So, how many instruments does Doug Kershaw play? By the age of five, Doug already mastered the fiddle and eventually taught himself 28 instruments. When you’re surrounded by a community of fiddlers and accordions, you’ll find yourself mastering the art of music. How cool is that!

He has recorded about 500 of his self-penned songs and is still looking forward to more fiddling, singing, and performing. The grind never stops until the passion is alive and burning for Doug. 

Aside from music, he is also fluent in two languages—Louisiana French and English. His abilities and accomplishments prove the diversity and richness of his artistry.

3. He made significant appearances on TV Shows

Following the success of “Louisiana Man,” “Diggy Diggy Lo” is another song that encapsulates Doug’s identity and trademark in country music. Later on, he appeared on major TV shows such as the Johnny Cash Show and made an opening act at Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominos back in the late 60s. This led him to a long-term contract with Warner Bros. where he performed at major festivals, contributed violin parts to a record single, and acted as a cameo in films. He slowly turned into a household name that anyone in the corner of the United States during the 60s would recognize. 

4. His life wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine

When Doug was only seven, his father suffered from depression and cØmmitted suicide. His family had to leave the bayous and move to a small town in Lake Arthur, where Doug learned to work on the sidelines to earn a living. He became a shoe shiner, performed on the streets, and accompanied his guitarist mother in a local bar. 

As he rose to fame, Doug battled with drug and alcohol addictions, car repossessions, messy relationships, and an arrest. He had to enter rehab in 1981 and 1984, which almost cost him his marriage. Pam Kershaw, his wife, only relented after he promised to put an end to his eccentric behaviors. 

5. He built a line of musicians in the family

After learning how to play numerous instruments, he taught his brother Rusty to play guitar and included his older brother Nelson in forming the band Continental Playboys. Nelson departed from the group, so Doug and Rusty were left as a duo. Their separation started after their military enlistment. Rusty continued to perform on his own as well and performed slide guitar on Neil Young’s album On the Beach. In 2001, Rusty died of a heart attack at age 63.

But Doug’s influence didn’t stop there. When he married Pam and had five sons — Douglas, Victor, Zachary, Tyler, and Elijah — his musicality was passed down to Tyler, who plays drums in his band.

Aside from a guitarist mother, Doug’s third cousin, Sammy Kershaw, is considered a country music star with more than 25 tracks on the US Billboard Hot Country Charts. Doug has one of those musically inclined lineages and descendants in his back that some people tend to look up to.

Doug Kershew’s induction into the Louisiana Hall of Fame is a well-earned spot. He is a one-of-a-kind figure in the music industry who achieved national prominence for his fiery personality and exceptional talents. Doug would be a tough act to follow, yet he has blazed the path for aspiring performers that the new generation can definitely take inspiration from. 

There you have it! With all the facts you’ve learned about Doug Kershaw, you can truly appreciate the rich tapestry of his contributions to Cajun music, his legendary fiddle playing, and the enduring impact of his vibrant career on American folk and country music traditions.

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