Personalities | Lee Dorsey | Sixties | Rock

(Vocals, 1921–86)

Dorsey was a New Orleans veteran who had careers as a sailor, a boxer and a car mechanic before turning to music in 1955. In 1961, he forged a successful partnership with pianist-composer Allen Toussaint with the irresistibly jaunty US R&B No. 1 ‘Ya Ya’. It set the template of laidback storm-party syncopation and fun which would characterize all his hits. A second bite of the chart cherry in 1965 brought him mainstream pop entries, including ‘Holy Cow’ and his definitive recording ‘Working In A Coalmine’ (co-written with Toussaint).

He often recorded and toured with top New Orleans funkers The Meters, and when the hits were not coming he would return to his bodyshop business. A comeback album in 1977 reminded a new generation of his sound, and in 1980 he supported The Clash on tour.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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