Passings: Joan Marie Johnson of the Dixie Cups

by VVN Music

Joan Marie Johnson Faust, one of the original members of the Dixie Cups, has died from congestive heart failure in her native New Orleans at the age of 72.

The Dixie Cups were originally sisters Barbara Lee and Rosa Lee Hawkins and their cousin, Johnson, who first started singing together while still in grade school.

Originally called Little Miss and the Muffets, they changed their name to the Meltones when they first started working professionally in 1963. Within a year, singer Joe Jones took over as their manager and gave them a new polish, taking them to New York where they were signed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's Red Bird Records.

Their very first release, Chapel of Love, went to the number 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100. They followed with People Say (1964 / #12) and Iko Iko (1965 / #20) along with a number of other minor hits.

In 1966, the Dixie Cups moved to ABC-Paramount but the label wasn't able to recreate the sales that the group had had on Red Bird. Johnson left the Dixie Cups soon after due to the constant traveling being hard on the sickle cell anemia that she had suffered from all her life.

While they no longer performed together, the three women stayed close with one source reporting that the two sisters had visited with Johnson last week.

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