Dixie Cups Member Rosa Lee Hawkins—of ‘Chapel of Love’ Fame—Dead at 76

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The Dixie Cups in 1964

Rosa Lee Hawkins, one of the founding members of the New Orleans “girl group” trio The Dixie Cups—best known for their 1964 #1 hit “Chapel of Love”—died Tuesday (Jan. 11, 2022), according to an obituary on the nola.com website. She was 76.

According to the published report, Hawkins “died from internal bleeding and other complications following a surgical procedure last week.”

Rosa Lee Hawkins, her sister Barbara Ann Hawkins, and their cousin, Joan Marie Johnson, managed by Joe Jones (who’d scored a top 10 hit in 1960 with “You Talk Too Much”), formed the group in 1963—as the Meltones—and, under their new name, signed the following year with Red Bird Records, a new label formed by the songwriter-producer team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller along with music executive George Goldner.

In April 1964, Red Bird released “Chapel of Love” as its first single. Written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, it had been recorded by the Blossoms the previous year but remained unreleased. The single rose to the top slot of the Billboard chart that June, where it replaced the Beatles’ “Love Me Do.” The Dixie Cups’ record stayed at #1 for three weeks.

They returned to the singles chart four more times, with “People Say” (#12), “You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked at Me” (#39), “Little Bell” (#51) and “Iko Iko,” the last a traditional New Orleans chant they recorded spontaneously in the studio. That recording reached #20 in 1965 and became their final charting single. The group also had one charting album, Chapel of Love, which stalled at #112 in 1964.

Related: A look at some other hits of 1964

In 2007, the Dixie Cups were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Their recording of “Chapel of Love” was included in Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll.

Fellow member Joan Marie Johnson died in 2016.

Here is their timeless hit…

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