Lee Dorsey - Ya Ya (1962)

Lee Dorsey was an American R&B singer, mostly active during the 60s.

Born in New Orleans in 1924, Lee Dorsey moved to Portland with his family when he was 10 years old. He went on to serve in the US Navy, and for a time had some success with a prize-fighting career (boxing as "Kid Chocolate"). He returned to New Orleans in 1955, and started a successful car repair shop, while pursuing a singing career at night. In the early 60s he met Allen Toussaint, who was soon to rise to legendary status in the field of New Orleans R&B. This meeting led to him being signed to Bobby Robinson's Fury Records.
On Fury, he co-authored the single "Ya Ya", which Toussaint arranged the instrumental backing for. Inspired by childrens' playground rhymes, it was a massive hit for him in 1961 - it got to #1 on the R&B charts and #7 on the pop charts, effectively launching his singing career. Its follow up, "Do Re Mi", was not as successful, but still made it to the Top 40 on both charts.
The Ya Ya album came out in 1962. With both singles and other similarly-titled tunes ("Eenie Meenie Mini Mo", "Yum Yum", etc), it's some fantastic New Orleans R&B, loose and easy going with uncluttered arrangements and playful vocals. The songwriting was mostly shared between Toussaint and Robinson.
However the Fury label folded shortly afterwards, and as Dorsey had failed to follow up the success of "Ya Ya" which his subsequent singles, he decided to quit his singing career and return to the car shop. His story was far from over, as Toussaint still had his eyes on Dorsey, but it would be a few years before they got to work together again...

|> Ride Your Pony (1966)
More from Lee Dorsey


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