He was strongly influenced by the late Hank Williams, who he met in 1951 at the Teche Club shortly before Williams's death. Since then Menard had performed in more than 30 countries and served as a good-will ambassador for Cajun culture. He had also recorded with non-Cajun artists, including Bryan Ferry. Menard, and his late wife Louella, had seven children, leading to 17 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He passed away at age 85 on July 27th, 2017.
He was still living in Erath upon his death; playing, performing, and recording. He had maintained a separate career as a craftsman, noted for his handmade ash-wood chairs. Menard was known for his "tinny" voice and popular guitar strumming style. Musician and historian Ann Savoy generalizes Cajun guitar strumming to two styles: Old Time Style (Cléoma Falcon) and D. L.
Menard Style. It uses bass runs on chord changes and incorporates up-strokes along with down-strokes. He modeled his strumming style after David Bromberg, who he met in 1973. Menard was best known for the song "La Porte En Arrière" ("The Back Door"), which he both composed and regularly performed. Cajun folklorist Barry Jean Ancelet has called this the most played and recorded Cajun song ever, selling over 500,000 copies in 1962 alone. It has been covered by dozens of Cajun and zydeco bands and by other francophone artists such as Kate & Anna McGarrigle.
Menard said he modeled it on Hank Williams's "Honky Tonk Blues", and that he composed it in less than an hour while working at a gas station in Erath. In 1993, his album Le Trio Cadien was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best traditional folk album category. In 1994, he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship Award by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2009, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame along with Jo-El Sonnier, Doug Kershaw, and Jimmy C. Newman.
In 2010, his album Happy Go Lucky was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Zydeco or Cajun music album category. Discography 45 RPMs She Didn't Know I Was Married / Bachelor's Life Swallow 45-10139 The Back Door / I can't Forget You Swallow 45-10131 Valse De Jolly Rogers / La. Aces Special Swallow 45-10121 Rebecca Ann / I Can Live A Better Life Swallow 45-10147 Too Late You're Divorced / Riches Of A Musician Swallow 45-10243 The Vail and Crown Swallow 45-10249 33 RPMs Louisiana Aces (1974) Rounder Select 6008 Cajun Hits Volume 2 (n.d.) Swallow LP 6003 En Bas Du Chene Vert (1976) Arhoolie Records The Best of Cajun Hits Volume 3 (1978) Swallow LP 6033 The Back Door (1980) Swallow LP 6038 Cajun Saturday Night (1984) Rounder Select 0198 No Matter Where You At, There You Are (1988) Rounder Select 6021 Albums Le Trio Cadien (1992) Rounder Select Cajun Memories (1995) Swallow LP 6125 Happy Go Lucky (2010) Swallow CD 6219 Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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