Chris Kenner (December 25, 1929 – January 25, 1976) was a New Orleans R&B singer and songwriter, best known for two hit singles in the early 1960s that 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. In 1955 he made his first recordings, for a small label, Baton Records, without success. In 1957 recorded his “Sick and Tired” for Imperial Records; Fats Domino covered it the next year, and his version became a hit. “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, he began to work with pianist and arranger Allen Toussaint. In 1961, this collaboration produced “I Like It Like That”, his first and biggest hit, peaking at #2 in 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, Chuck Jackson, Earl Grant, Maxine Brown, Bobby Womack, the Moody Blues (on their 1965 debut album), the American Breed, Fairport Convention and Bruce Springsteen). “I Like It Like That” sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. In 1962 he produced his most enduring song, “Land of a Thousand Dances”, which was covered by various artists, including Cannibal & the Headhunters, 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 a Thousand Dances, on Atlantic Records in 1966; the Collectors’ Choice label reissued it on CD in 2007.
In 1968 Kenner was convicted of statutory rape of a minor and spent three years in Louisiana’s Angola prison.
Kenner died from a heart attack in 1976, at the age of 46.