The Dixie Cups were three girls from New Orleans – sisters Rosa Lee and Barbara Ann Hawkins, and their cousin, Joan Marie Johnson.
The girls provided Red Bird records (arguably the Girl Group label) with its first record release and its first hit. The song was Chapel Of Love (1964) and it went to #1.
Originally included on Presenting The Ronettes, the song was written by husband and wife Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich together with Phil Spector.
The trio had a series of chart singles after Chapel Of Love, but mired in business problems, they stopped recording in the late 60s.
According to Rosa Hawkins, the girls never saw any royalties from their records and TV appearances.
She recalls; “When we were on tour for two or three months we’d get paid bi-weekly. We wouldn’t keep the money with us – we’d wire it back to New York, where we lived. We assumed it was being banked, but when we returned there was no money. The rent was due, the lights were off . . . all that kind of stuff.”
Returning to New Orleans in 1974, the sisters took up modelling. Their new career allowed them time to return to the road with new member Jo Ann Kennedy. Johnson bowed out of the group and got a job with the phone company.
Joan Marie Johnson died of congestive heart failure in New Orleans on 5 October 2016, aged 72. Rosa Lee Hawkins passed away as a result of surgical complications on 11 January 2022, aged 76.
Rosa Lee Hawkins
Barbara Ann Hawkins
Joan Marie Johnson