Sarah Dash, of Labelle and ‘Lady Marmalade’ Fame, Dead at 76

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1975 promotional photo of Labelle. From left: Nona Hendryx, Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash. (Photo courtesy of Epic Records)

Singer Sarah Dash, a core member of the vocal trio Labelle (“Lady Marmalade”), and before that, Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles, died Sept. 20, 2021. Dash, who was 76, died in Trenton, N.J., the city where she was born. No cause of death was cited.

Dash had reunited on stage with LaBelle just two days earlier at the latter’s concert in Atlantic City. It proved to be her final performance.

LaBelle wrote, “We were just on-stage together on Saturday and it was such a powerful and special moment! Sarah Dash was an awesomely talented, beautiful, and loving soul who blessed my life and the lives of so many others in more ways than I can say. And I could always count on her to have my back!

Dash is scheduled to be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame this fall, along with 23 other prominent residents of the state.

Born Aug. 18, 1945, Dash moved to Philadelphia in her teens, where she met fellow singing enthusiasts Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Cindy Birdsong. The group’s name went through subtle changes during its first few years—as the Blue Belles, they placed the single “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman” on the Billboard singles chart in 1962. It rose to #15 and was followed by a series of singles under the name Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles, including “Down the Aisle (Wedding Song)” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Birdsong left the group in 1967 to join the Supremes, and four years later, the remaining trio re-formed with a new style, visually and musically, as Labelle. They first made a major splash on the charts with “Lady Marmalade,” a funky dance number that fit in alongside of the glam-rock that was all the rage at the time. The single reached the top of the Billboard chart in March 1975.

Related: What were the other chart-topping singles of 1975?

The group could not sustain its popularity, however, and split up at the end of 1976, with each of the three members enjoying considerable success as a solo performer. Dash served primarily as a session singer, and was notably hired by Keith Richards to work with both his side group the X-pensive Winos and the Rolling Stones—she appeared on their 1989 Steel Wheels album.

The Labelle trio recorded a reunion album, Back to Now, in 2008, which reached #45 on the Billboard chart.

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2021

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  1. Merribeth
    #1 Merribeth 21 September, 2021, 00:08

    Give a listen to Laura Nyro with Labelle, “Take a Miracle”. Oh, my, my.

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  2. Chris
    #2 Chris 21 September, 2021, 21:59

    She just performed Saturday night w Patti at the show in Atlantic city. Omg unbelievable

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