Rosa Lee Hawkins of The Dixie Cups has died at the age of 76 from internal bleeding during a surgical procedure.
Fresh out of high school, Hawkins, along with her older sister Barbara Ann and cousin Joan Marie Johnson, dethroned The Beatles‘ ‘Love Me Do’ from the Billboard Hot 100 top spot in 1964 with ‘Chapel Of Love’, which went on to be The Dixie Cups’ most enduring hit.
The band are credited with laying the foundations for ’60s pop girl groups, going on to release other chart heavyweights including ‘Iko Iko’ and ‘People Say’.
‘Chapel Of Love’ has been covered by acts including Elton John and Bette Midler and featured in movies ranging from Father Of The Bride to Full Metal Jacket.
The cause of Hawkins’ death was revealed by The New York Times, which previously spoke to Hawkins’ bandmember and sister. “When the audience smiled and applauded, it made [Rosa Lee Hawkins] happy because she knew she put a smile on their faces, if only for that time,” Barbara Ann said.
After the release of their debut album ‘Chapel Of Love’ in 1964, The Dixie Cups went on to release three more albums: ‘Iko Iko’ (1965), ‘Riding High’ (1965) and ‘Doing It Our Way’ (2011). In 2007, they earned a spot in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and continued to perform live throughout the 2010s.
“She was a very strong woman. She loved her family. She loved what she was doing. And she enjoyed performing because the Dixie Cups motto is to bring a smile to everyone’s face. If we can do that when we sing, then our job is done. We’re happy. So that was important to her.”
AZCentral spoke to Barbara Ann in the wake of her sister’s death. “She was a very strong woman. She loved her family. She loved what she was doing,” Barbara Ann said in tribute.
“We’ve been together all our lives,” Barbara added. “She was my little sister. And when we started the group, it was amazing that we needed another voice and I said, ‘Let’s use my sister.’ So we did. And then the Dixie Cups were born.”
Rosa “would do anything to help anybody that was in trouble,” Barbara said.