December 1, 1986 – Irving Lee Dorsey was born on Christmas Eve December 24, 1924 in New Orleans and a childhood friend of Fats Domino.
At age ten, the family moved to Portland Oregon, he became a WWII veteran, who turned lightweight boxer in the early 1950s and saw success as Kid Chocolate. In 1955, at age 30 he decided to retire from boxing, move back to New Orleans, used his savings to open an auto repair shop and sang in Night Clubs at night. In 1960 his talent was recognized and he was put in contact with young rising star musician/producer Allen Toussaint at a party.
Their first collaboration YaYa became a Golden Record seller but with the British invasion right on his tail, things cooled off a bit until he picked up working with Allen Toussaint again and from 1965 to 1969 he had seven songs in the Hot 100, the most successful of which was “Working In The Coal Mine” in 1966. In 1970 he and Allen Toussaint collaborated on an album entitled “Yes We Can”.
He appeared on an album with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, which led to more recordings on his own with ABC Records in the late 1970s. In 1980, he opened for English punk band The Clash on their U.S. tour and opened on tours for James Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis. Many of his songs, and especially “YaYa” and “Working in the Coal Mine” have been covered by many international superstars over the years.
He died from emphysema on Dec 1, 1986 at age 61.