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Died On This Date (September 15, 2012) James “Sugar Boy” Crawford / New Orleans R&B Great

Posted by themusicsover on September 17, 2012

James “Sugar Boy” Crawford
October 12, 1934 – September 15, 2012

James “Sugar Boy” Crawford was a New Orleans R&B musician who, in 1953, wrote a song called “Jock-A-Moe,” which eventually morphed into “Iko-Iko,” one of the Crescent City’s most beloved standards.  As a singer, trombonist, and later, pianist, Crawford began performing around 1950 when he formed the Chapaka Shawee with Doctor Daddy-O. The great Leonard Chess signed him to his Chess Records and changed their name to Sugar Boy & his Cane Cutters.  In 1965, the Dixie Cups released “Iko-Iko” which sounded enough like “Jock-A-Moe,” that Crawford was eventually awarded 25% ownership.  “Iko Iko” went on to become one of the most popular songs to come out of New Orleans and could be heard in countless movies and television shows.  It has been covered by the likes of the Grateful Dead, Cyndi Lauper, Warren Zevon and Dave Matthews.  In 1963, Crawford was pistol-whipped by the police to the point that he was laid up for two years.  The beating put him into a coma and resulted in a metal plate replacing much of his skull.  When he awoke, he had lost most of his memory and motor skills which took the best of two years to re-learn.  He retired from the music business until 1969 when he returned to singing in his church only.  Crawford resurfaced during the mid ’90s to perform on his grandson, Davell Crawford’s, album and made occasional appearances at  New Orleans festivals well into the 2000s.   James “Sugar Boy” Crawford was 77 when he passed away in hospice care on September 15, 2012.

 Thanks to Henk de Bruin for the assist.

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