Patti LaBelle is 70

Also used for ABC Wednesday, Round 15. B is for Blue Belles.

pattilabelle_fullPatti LaBelle was born Patricia Holt, in Philadelphia. She formed a group the Blue-Belles, with Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash, and Cindy Birdsong. The group had a Top Twenty single, “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman”, but it was actually sung by another group. (Most confusing.)

The redubbed Patti LaBelle and her Blue Belles had some minor hits, such as Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song) and You’ll Never Walk Alone. But then Cindy Birdsong left the group to replace Florence Ballard in The Supremes. They ended up musically adrift and got dropped by their record label.

The trio got a new record label, and changed its name to Labelle, with songs that “mixed harder-edged soul music with rock music elements”, to limited success. They had more luck singing with the late Laura Nyro. LISTEN to The Bells, and I Met Him on a Sunday, and You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me and It’s Gonna Take A Miracle.

Their big hit was Lady Marmalade, #1 in 1975. But within two years, the group broke up, and Patti went solo.

While she had a couple hits, notably New Attitude (#17 in 1985) and On My Own (with Michael McDonald, #1 in 1986), she continues to be a working artist, touring regularly, and putting out albums, with some success, especially on the R&B charts inspiring a whole generation, or two, with her voice. She put out a decent Christmas collection that is apparently out of print. She can even sing the alphabet.

Diagnosed with diabetes in 1995, she has been a spokesperson for awareness of the disease. Recently, she commented on the notion of the diva.

15 thoughts on “Patti LaBelle is 70”

  1. As you know, group identities have been, shall we say, fluid before. None of the actual Crystals sang on “He’s a Rebel” or “He’s Sure the Boy I Love”; the lead vocal on “Incense and Peppermints” was sung, not by any member of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, but by a friend of the band who was hanging around the studio; any number of doo-wop groups had interchangeable members. (Perhaps most blatant: the Rare Breed’s recording of “Beg, Borrow and Steal” was reissued as an Ohio Express single.)


  2. Patti LaBelle was never one of my favorites, but I did enjoy some of her songs. My favorite song of hers is “New Attitude,” but remember as a teenager guiltily enjoying “Lady Marmalade.” Blessings!


  3. I remember dusting off a record of hers when I was a student working for the summer in the library of the music department of MVC. I don’t remember finding a player though. It probably would have been fun to listen to it.


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