Born Douglas James Kershaw in Tiel Ridge, Cameron Parish, Louisiana, in an area known as Cajun country, he traces his ancestry to Acadians who were part of the Great Expulsion by the British authorities from their homeland in eastern Canada in 1755. He grew up surrounded by Cajun fiddle and accordion music, and as a 19-year-old, in 1955, he performed with his brother Rusty Kershaw on the Louisiana Hayride radio broadcast.
In June 1969, Kershaw made his first network television appearance on the debut of the Johnny Cash Show. He capped the year with a much-publicized, week-long engagement at the New York City's Fillmore East as opening act for Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominos.
Singing in both French and English, Kershaw's stage performance is marked by his abundant energy. Simultaneously playing fiddle, singing, and dancing, it is not unusual for him to wear out several bows, sometimes during just one song. With more than 25 albums to his credit and a five-decade-long career, Doug Kershaw has a loyal following and continues to tour worldwide.
The son of an alligator hunter, Kershaw was the seventh child born to a family that eventually included five boys and four girls. Raised in a home where Cajun French was spoken, he didn't learn English until the age of eight. By that time, he had mastered the fiddle, which he played from the age of five, and was on his way to teaching himself to play an amazing 28 instruments. His first gig was at a local bar, the Bucket of Blood, where he was accompanied by his mother on guitar. After teaching his brother, Rusty (born Russell; February 2, 1938), to play guitar, he formed a band, the Continental Playboys, with Rusty and older brother, Peewee, in 1948.