1964 The Dixie Cups – People Say
Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich wrote the song Chapel Of Love for Darlene Love. She recorded the song in 1963, but her version disappointed Phil and remained unreleased until 1991. The Ronettes recorded the song and released it on an album in November 1964, but did not immediately release the song as a single (it eventually ended up on the b-side of the reissue of Do I Love You).
The first recording released came from The Dixie Cups, who topped the Hot 100 with their single in the Summer of 1964.
Sisters Barbara Ann and Rosa Lee Hawkins and their cousin Joan Marie Johnson grew up in New Orleans and started singing together in school. They called themselves The Meltones and began appearing professionally. Joe Jones, who reached #3 on the Hot 100 in 1960 with the single You Talk Too Much, became their manager in 1963. He worked with them for five months before taking them to New York City. They auditioned for Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who signed them to their new Red Bird Records label.
Jeff and Ellie worked with the group and helped produce their version of Chapel Of Love with Jerry and Mike. After a few lyric changes and a finalized arrangement from Joe, the song was released as the first single on the Red Bird label. All the hard work paid off; the single replaced the Beatles at the top of the Hot 100 chart in 1964. The group performed the song on Hollywood, a Go-Go backed by what has to be the most unusual performance ever by the Gazzarri Dancers.
The group’s follow-up single was written by Jeff and Ellie and produced by the same team as their first single. People Say peaked at only #12 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B chart in 1964. The group’s next two singles did not fare well, reaching only #38 and #50 on the Hot 100.
James “Sugar Boy” Crawford wrote and recorded the song Jock-a-Mo in 1953 about a parade collision between two Indian tribes at Mardi Gras. The record did not chart, but the song became a local favorite in New Orleans. While in a recording studio, the three women in the Dixie Cups were playing around with the song while accompanying themselves with drumsticks on an aluminum chair, a studio ashtray and a Coke bottle. Unbeknownst to the trio, the session was being taped, and the group’s producers later cleaned up the recording and dubbed on more drums, a bass line, and some background vocals. Red Bird released the result as the song Iko Iko. The single reached #20 on the Hot 100 in 1965 and became the group’s last successful recording.
The group recorded a few songs for ABC Records, but their recording career ended by 1966.
The Hawkins sisters have continued to perform as the Dixie Cups with a series of replacements for the third member of the group. The current third member is Aaron Neville’s sister Athelgra.
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