Early R&B hitmaker and rock ‘n roll influencer Lloyd Price has died. His death from diabetes complications on May 3rd was confirmed by his long-time manager Tom Trapani, and Lloyd’s wife Jacqueline Price.
In a statement to Billboard, Ms Price wrote: “I am so touched by the outpouring of love and tribute for the passing of my husband Lloyd Price, who passed peacefully on May 3, 2021 at Schaffer Extended Care in Westchester County, NY. Lloyd’s music crossed many boundaries and carried him to all corners of the world. He got the nickname ‘Mr. Personality’ because of his biggest hit, but he also earned that name because he was charismatic, generous, smart, funny, talented with a very kind heart. I am so grateful for everyone who loves his music and have precious memories of his many songs. From the deepest part of me thank you, love to all.”
Price was born in Kenner, Louisiana on March 9th, 1933, where he grew up singing in his church’s gospel choir. The young Lloyd also received formal training on piano and trumpet, forming his first combo while in high school.
Price’s first hit was “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” a jingle he originally wrote for New Orleans DJ James “Okey Dokey” Smith. In 1952, Specialty Records founder Art Rupe was in New Orleans searching for new talent. He recorded “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” with Dave Bartholomew and his backing band, which included Ernest McLean on guitar, Frank Fields on bass, Earl Palmer on drums, and saxophonists Herbert Hardesty (tenor) and Joe Harris (alto).
His pianist, Salvador Doucette was offering dissatisfying performances, so when Fats Domino arrived at J&M Studios, he was asked to sit in on the session. The result was a song that lasted 26 weeks on the Billboard R&B charts including 7 weeks at #1, becoming the first rhythm and blues song to attract the attention of white, Southern teenagers, including Elvis Presley.
Price was drafted into the Army in 1954, and upon his return formed KRC Records whose releases were distributed by ABC Records. Among those hits were “Stagger Lee,” “Personality,” and “I’m Gonna Get Married,” which were all hugely successful.
In 1962, Price formed Double L Records with Harold Logan, one of his KRC partners. In 1969, Logan was murdered. Price then founded a new label, Turntable, and opened a club by the same name at 1674 Broadway in New York City. These were just a few of his entrepreneurial endeavors. He helped promote fights with Don King, including the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire. This fight had an accompanying music festival with artists that included BB King, James Brown, and several others. Price and King also formed another record label, LPG, which issued Price’s last hit, “What Did You Do With My Love.”
Among his other projects were two construction companies and Global Icon Brands which made a line of Southern-style foods, plus Lawdy Miss Clawdy clothing and collectibles. Price released his autobiography, The True King of the Fifties: The Lloyd Price Story. Price was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1994, he was given the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of fame in 2019. He entered the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
In 2017, Price released This is Rock and Roll, and less than a year ago, wrote an 0p-ed piece for American Blues Scene entitled “Looking Over My Shoulder.”
In addition to his wife Jackie, Price is survived by three daughters and two sons.