LaBelle – Lady Marmalade Song Meaning

Lady Marmalade – LaBelle | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: R&B and Pop (#1); 1975

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Patti LaBelle and Her Blue Belles scored their first hit, I Sold My Heart To The Junkman, in 1962 without ever singing a note. The real Junkman recording group, The Starlets, disappeared while Patti’s quartet – whose name appeared on the label – continued to record. In 1970, British television producer Vicki Wickham, who remembered the girls’ gigs on the Bandstand-like Ready, Steady, Go!, agreed to manage them. Renamed LaBelle and re-costumed in silvery space outfits, the trio went into the studios under the guidance of legendary New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint. Among the songs laid down was one by Kenny Nolan and Bob Crewe about a notorious lady of the evening, originally recorded by the Nolan-led Eleventh Hour. LaBelle introduced Lady Marmalade at the prestigious Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan and soon everyone was cooing the sexy French bedroom invitation. Patti later went on to fame as the diva’s diva while Lady Marmalade strutted her stuff again in 2001 courtesy of Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Allen Toussaint
  • Vicki Wickham

Lyrics Written by:

  • Bob Crewe
  • Kenny Nolan


  • Grammy Hall of Fame (2003): The Labelle version of “Lady Marmalade” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003
  • Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, ranked #479 in 2004 and #485 in 2010
  • MTV Video Music Awards (2001): The music video for the song won two MTV Video Music Awards in 2001, for “Best Video of the Year” and “Best Video from a Film”