James "Sugar Boy" Crawford

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James "Sugar Boy" Crawford
Crawford in a rare appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1996 as a guest of his grandson, Davell Crawford
Background information
Birth nameJames Crawford
Born(1934-10-12)October 12, 1934
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
DiedSeptember 15, 2012(2012-09-15) (aged 77)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Genres Rhythm and blues
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active1950–1969
Labels Aladdin, Ace, Checker Records, Imperial, Specialty
Associated actsDavell Crawford, Snooks Eaglin, Irving Banister

James "Sugar Boy" Crawford, Jr. (October 12, 1934  – September 15, 2012) was an American R&B musician based in New Orleans. He was the author of "Jock-A-Mo" (1954), which was later rerecorded as "Iko Iko" [1] by the Dixie Cups, and became a huge hit. The song was recorded by many other artists, including Dr. John, Belle Stars, the Grateful Dead, Cyndi Lauper, and (as "Geto Boys") by Glass Candy.


Life and career

Starting out on trombone, Crawford formed a band, which a local DJ, Doctor Daddy-O, named the Chapaka Shawee (Creole for "We Aren't Raccoons"), the title of an instrumental that they played. Crawford recalled, "During high school we had a little band, nothing real organized at first. I was back playing piano... The other fellows in the band were Edgar "Big Boy" Myles, Warren Myles, Nolan Blackwell, Irving "Cat" Banister, and Alfred Bernard- just a bunch of youngsters having fun." [2] The group was signed by Chess Records president Leonard Chess and was renamed Sugar Boy and his Cane Cutters.

His song "Jock-A-Mo" became a standard at the New Orleans Mardi Gras, but Crawford disappeared from public view. In a 2002 interview for Offbeat magazine he described how his career came to an abrupt halt in 1963, after a severe beating at the hands of state troopers incapacitated him for two years, forcing him to leave the music industry. In 1969, he decided to sing only in church. [1] In 2012 he made a guest appearance singing gospel in an episode of the HBO series Treme . He died one month before the episode aired. James "Sugar Boy" Crawford was also Inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame.

Crawford appeared on the 1995 album Let Them Talk, by Davell Crawford, his grandson. [3] He made some stage appearances with Davell, including one at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival [1] in 1996 and at the seventh annual Ponderosa Stomp in April 2008. [4]

Among the artists Crawford recorded with was Snooks Eaglin.

Crawford died after a brief illness in a hospice in 2012, aged 77. [5]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed James "Sugar Boy" Crawford among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [6]

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  1. 1 2 3 "Talk with James "Sugar Boy" Crawford By Jeff Hannusch". Offbeat.com. Archived from the original on 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2012-09-16.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. Hannusch, Jeff (1985). I Hear You Knockin': The Sound of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues. Swallow Publications. ISBN   0-9614245-0-8.
  3. James "Sugar Boy" Crawford at AllMusic Biography by Eugene Chadbourne
  4. "Ponderosa Stomp #7 – Schedule, Artists, Tickets and Lineup". Ponderosastomp.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. "James Crawford Obituary: View James Crawford's Obituary". The Times-Picayune. Obits.nola.com. 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2014-07-11.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved June 28, 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)