Sarah Dash, who co-founded “Lady Marmalade” group Labelle, died on Monday, Billboard reports. She was 76.
In a statement posted on Instagram, Labelle co-founder Patti LaBelle said that she and Dash were “just onstage together on Saturday,” adding, “It was such a powerful and special moment.”
“Sarah Dash was an awesomely talented, beautiful and loving soul who blessed my life and the lives of so many others in more ways than I can say. I could always count on her to have my back,” Patti continued. “That’s who Sarah was…a loyal friend and a voice for those who didn’t have one. She was a true giver, always serving and sharing her talent and time.”
“I am heartbroken, as I know all of her loved ones and fans are,” she added. “But I know that Sarah’s spirit and all that she has given to the world live on. And I pray that her precious memory brings us peace and comfort. Rest in power my dear sister. I love you always!”
LaBelle also posted footage of her and Dash onstage on Saturday, as well as a montage of photos of Dash and the group over the years.
In the ’60s, Dash teamed up with Nona Hendryx and Patti LaBelle in Philadelphia to form a group called The Ordettes. After Cindy Birdsong joined, they renamed themselves The Bluebelles, and then Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. In 1971, a few years after Birdsong left to join The Supremes, they reimagined themselves as the trio Labelle, with a funkier and futuristic visual style and more politically and socially conscious songs.
In 1974, Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade” — with its unforgettable chorus of “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi” — hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s parent album Nightbirds, was a top-10 hit and made them the first Black vocal group to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. After two more albums, Labelle split and all three launched solo careers; in 2008, they reunited for an album and tour.
In addition to releasing a number of solo albums and singles, Dash wrote her autobiography, Dash of Diva, performed sporadically, and sang with the Rolling Stones, as well as with Stones guitarist Keith Richards on his solo album and tour.
No cause of death was provided.
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