The sound of the mid 1970s was found in the soulful sounds of the girl group Labelle and the hit song Lady Marmalade.
Written by songwriting duo Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, the song was inspired by Crewe’s observations of the city of New Orleans and produced by local Nola musician Allan Toussaint.
Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash recorded the song for the album Nightbirds, pushing a change in their image from do wop girl group to funky girls in glamourous metallic space outfits.
The trio didn’t know the song referred to a prostitute, but were happy for the new sound of disco to get them noticed and played on radio.
The infamous line of the song – Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir? (Would you like to sleep with me tonight?) is taken from the famous play/film A Streetcar Named Desire, which is set in New Orleans.
Released in August 1974, the song slowly climbed the charts and led to Labelle appearing on Soul Train in December 1974. In early 1975, the song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. Their album Nightbirds became their first platinum sales success.
Now one of the most popular disco songs of the era, Rolling Stone Magazine chose Lady Marmalade as the one of the The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time.