Copyright ©BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
EscritorBarbara Anne Hawkins, Joan Marie Johnson, Rosa Lee Hawkins
Ultima atualizaçãoMarch 6th, 2022
Sobre"Iko Iko" is a much-covered New Orleans song that tells of a parade collision between two "tribes" of Mardi Gras Indians and the traditional confrontation. The song, under the original title "Jock-A-Mo", was written and released as a single in 1953 by Sugar Boy and his Cane Cutters that failed to make the charts. The song first became popular in 1965 by the female pop group The Dixie Cups, who scored an international hit with "Iko Iko". In 1967 as part of a lawsuit settlement between "Sugar Boy" James Crawford and the Dixie Cups, the trio were given part songwriting credit to the song. In 1972, Dr. John had a minor hit with his version of "Iko Iko". The most successful charting version in the UK was recorded by Scottish singer Natasha England who took her 1982 version into the top 10. "Iko Iko" became an international hit again twice more, the first being the Belle Stars in June 1982 and again with Captain Jack in 2001.
The song was originally recorded by and released as a single in November 1953 by James Crawford as "Sugar Boy and his Cane Cutters", on Checker Records (Checker 787). The single features Dave Lastie on tenor saxophone. Crawford's version of the song did not make the charts. The story tells of a "spy boy" (i.e. a lookout for one band of Indians) encountering the "flag boy" or guidon carrier for another "tribe". He threatens to "set the flag on fire". Crawford set phrases chanted by Mardi Gras Indians to music for the song. Crawford himself states that he has no idea what the words mean, and that he originally sang the phrase "Chock-a-mo", but the title was misheard by Chess Records and Checker Records president Leonard Chess, who misspelled it as "Jock-a-mo" for the record's release.
The Dixie Cups version was the result of an unplanned jam in a New York City recording studio where they began an impromptu version of "Iko Iko", accompanying themselves with drumsticks on an aluminum chair, a studio ashtray and a Coke bottle. After their producers cleaned up the track and added the backup vocals, bass and drums to the song, the single was then released in March 1965. The Dixie Cups scored an international hit single with "Iko Iko" in May 1965 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart where their version peaked at number 20 and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100. The song also charted at number 23 on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 20 on the R&B Chart. In Canada "Iko Iko" reached number 26 on the RPM Chart. It was the third single taken from their debut studio album Chapel of Love issued on Red Bird Records in August 1964.
The Dixie Cups had learned "Iko, Iko" from hearing the Hawkins sisters' grandmother sing it, but they knew little about the origin of the song and so the original authorship credit went to the members, Barbara Ann Hawkins, her sister Rosa Lee Hawkins, and their cousin Joan Marie Johnson.
The Dixie Cups' version was later included on the soundtrack to the 1987 film The Big Easy. This same version was also used on the soundtrack of the 2005 movie The Skeleton Key. In 2009, a version based on The Dixie Cups' was used in an ad for Lipton Rainforest Alliance Ice Tea
After the Dixie Cups version of "Iko Iko" was a hit in 1965, they and their record label, Red Bird Records, were sued by James Crawford, who claimed that "Iko Iko" was the same as his composition "Jock-a-mo". Although The Dixie Cups denied that the two compositions were similar, the lawsuit resulted in a settlement in 1967 with Crawford making no claim to authorship or ownership of "Iko Iko", but being credited 25% for public performances, such as on radio, of "Iko Iko" in the United States. Even though a back-to-back listening of the two recordings clearly demonstrates that "Iko Iko" was practically the same song as Crawford's "Jock-a-mo", Crawford's rationale for the settlement was motivated by years of legal battles with no royalties. In the end, he stated, "I don't even know if I really am getting my just dues. I just figure 50 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing."
In the 1990s, the Dixie Cups became aware that another group of people were claiming authorship of "Iko Iko". Their ex-manager Joe Jones and his family filed a copyright registration in 1991, alleging that they wrote the song in 1963. Joe Jones successfully licensed "Iko Iko" outside of North America. The Dixie Cups filed a lawsuit against Joe Jones. The trial took place in New Orleans and the Dixie Cups were represented by well-known music attorney Oren Warshavsky before Senior Federal Judge Peter Beer. The jury returned a unanimous verdict on March 6, 2002, affirming that the Dixie Cups were the only writers of "Iko Iko" and granting them more money than they were seeking. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury verdict and sanctioned Joe Jones.