I Like It Like That
July 19, 2020
Or perhaps not.
A sad behind a good tune.
Christophe Kenner (December 25, 1929 – January 25, 1976) was an American, New Orleans-based R&B singer and songwriter, best known for two hit singles in the early 1960s, "I Like It Like That" and "Land of 1000 Dances", which became staples in the repertoires of many other musicians.
Born in the farming community of Kenner, Louisiana, upriver from New Orleans, Kenner sang gospel music with his church choir. He moved to New Orleans when he was in his teens, to work as a longshoreman.
In 1955 he made his first recordings, for a small label, Baton Records, without success. In 1957, he recorded his "Sick and Tired" for Imperial Records. Kenner's recording reached number 13 on the Billboard R&B chart. Fats Domino covered it the next year, and his version became a hit on the pop chart. "Rocket to the Moon" and "Life Is Just a Struggle", both cut for Ron Records, were other notable songs Kenner recorded in this period.
Moving to another New Orleans label, Instant (which was initially called 'Valiant' before they discovered the name was already in use), he began to work with the pianist and arranger Allen Toussaint. In 1961, this collaboration produced "I Like It Like That", his biggest and first pop hit, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (covered in 1965 by the Dave Clark Five), and "Something You Got" (covered by Wilson Pickett, Alvin Robinson, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Johnny Rivers, Chuck Jackson, Earl Grant, Maxine Brown, Fats Domino, Bobby Womack, The Moody Blues, the American Breed, Fairport Convention, Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix (1966)). "I Like It Like That" sold over one million copies, was nominated for a Grammy, and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Kenner's song “Something You Got” later became a hit for Alvin Robinson, the Ramsey Lewis Trio and the duo of Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown.In 1963 he released his most enduring song, "Land of 1000 Dances", based on an old spiritual. Kenner's version reached number 77 on the pop chart in 1963. It was later covered by various artists, including Cannibal & the Headhunters, Fats Domino, Thee Midniters, Wilson Pickett, the Action, and Patti Smith. Kenner continued to record for Instant and for other small local labels, including many of his lesser-known songs from the 1960s, such as "My Wife", "Packing Up" and "They Took My Money". He released an album, Land of 1000 Dances, on Atlantic Records in 1966; it was reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice in 2007.
Kenner's career was affected by his unpredictable behavior – he drank and spent heavily, and would sometimes miss shows or forget the words to his songs. He continued to record until 1968, with diminishing success.
Kenner died from a heart attack in 1976, at the age of 46, triggered by alcoholism.