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Iko Iko

Dixie Cups


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Arrangement by Wardell Quezergue (1930-2011)

This footage of American pop girl group the "Dixie Cups" was filmed during the mid 1960s. They are best known for their 1964 million selling disc, "Chapel Of Love."

New Orleans native Wardell Quezergue, "the Creole Beethoven," left his mark on American music. He wrote symphonies, but popular music gigs paid the bills.

The words to Iko, Iko:

The English words refer to Mardi Gras Indian battles.

The other words are mix of French creole and Native American.

"Iko" translates to "ecoutez" which in French is the command "Listen!"

The rest of the words?

Researching them will be fun. Enjoy!


Wardell Quezergue's 80th Birthday Party

Left to right: Bo Dollis (seated), Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias (lead singer of what may be the funkiest funk band of all time); rhythm and blues artist Al “Carnival Time” Johnson; singer Michelle Davis; poet Chuck Perkins; composer and arranger Wardell Quezergue (seated); Ken McCarthy, founder of Jazz on the Tube and Food Music Justice.


Quezergue (pronounced "ka-zair") was not well known to the general public, preferring to remain out of the spotlight; but any recording bearing the production credit "Big Q" indicates that Quezergue oversaw the session and is a guarantee of quality.

Nicknamed "the Creole Beethoven", he was noted for his funky rhythms and syncopated horn arrangements, and was the man behind two big hits of the early 1970s – King Floyd's Groove Me and Jean Knight's Mr Big Stuff.

Wardell Joseph Quezergue was born into a Creole family in the 7th Ward district of New Orleans on March 12 1930.

Both his parents played musical instruments, and encouraged their son to take up the trumpet. Leaving high school before graduation, Wardell enlisted in the US Army and was posted to Tokyo, where his musical skills found him appointed director of Army bands. In Tokyo he met and married Yoshi Tamaki. He served in the Korean War, but later said that his musical ability spared him from being sent to the front line.

After being demobbed, Quezergue returned to New Orleans, where he enrolled in a local music school to study theory and composition. He then formed his own band, The Royal Dukes of Rhythm, beginning to show his talent for arrangement when he was hired to play on recording sessions.

By the late Fifties he was leading Wardell & the Sultans, who recorded for Imperial Records in the early 1960s. Quezergue never lost his deep-rooted sense of community, and during this period he taught music and directed the school band at St Mary's Academy in New Orleans.

In the mid-1960s he founded Nola Records, recording a succession of great rhythm and blues 45s by artists such as Robert Parker, Eddie Bo, Willie Tee, Earl King and Smokey Johnson, scoring a big American hit with Parker's Barefootin' in 1964. But running a small record label proved wearisome, as distributors were often reluctant to pay for the stock they had sold, and Nola closed down in 1968.

In 1970, however, Quezergue produced Jean Knight's Mr Big Stuff and King Floyd's Groove Me in a single session at the Malaco recording studio in Jackson, Mississippi. At first he could find no label interested in issuing the recordings, forcing Malaco to set up a label of its own. When they issued the two songs, both were instant hits in New Orleans, leading to deals with Atlantic and Stax.

Mr Big Stuff reached No 2 in the US pop charts (No 1 in the R&B list) and Groove Me made No 6, and was also top of the R&B charts. Both songs remain classics, and have been covered by other artists or sampled by rappers, while Malaco Records became one of America's foremost soul and blues labels.

Quezergue was suddenly a hot property, and his skills as an arranger were sought out by artists such as BB King, Willie Nelson, Wilson Pickett, The Supremes, The Pointer Sisters, Big Joe Turner – and Paul Simon, who used his services on the album There Goes Rhymin' Simon.

In 1992 Quezergue produced and arranged Dr John's Grammy-winning album Goin' Back To New Orleans. He then contributed to the blues musician Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's albums Gate Swings (1997) and American Music, Texas Style (1999).
In 2000 he premiered A Creole Mass, a classical composition that drew on his experiences in the Korean War and the music of New Orleans.

A diabetic, Quezergue was almost blind by 2005, the year in which Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. He survived the disaster, but his house was badly damaged and he lost his entire collection of sheet music. In the following year benefit concerts were held to raise money on his behalf.

Wardell Quezergue's wife Yoshi Tamaki died earlier this year. He is survived by five sons and eight daughters.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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