Saturday, January 22

Lloyd Price Obituary | Pop and rock

Lloyd Price, a man of high energy and varied talents, who passed away at 88 years of age from complications of diabetes, fully deserved his nickname “Mr. Personality.” This was a reference to his 1959 hit Personality, which reached number 2 on the US charts. His 1952 hit Lawdy Miss Clawdy, which was covered by a wide variety of artists, from Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney to The Hollies, Solomon Burke and Joe cocker, was a pioneer of rock’n’roll and one of the first albums to break down the barriers between black and white audiences. “I revolutionized the South!” Price was excited. “Before Lawdy, Miss Clawdy’s white kids weren’t really interested in this music.”

After a streak of hits in the early 1950s, many of which made it to the top end of the US R&B chart, Price was drafted into the US Army. his greatest success in 1958 with Stagger Lee, which topped the US pop chart.His other greatest hits included I am going to marry, the goddess fortune, Question Y misty. But he also enjoyed a parallel career as a pioneer in the music business, establishing one of the first black-owned music publishers, Lloyd & Logan Music, and a pioneering black-owned record label, KRC.

After a failed stint as a club owner on Broadway, New York, in the 1970s he made a dramatic change in his career by partnering with Don King to promote Muhammad Ali’s legendary heavyweight bouts, the Rumble in the Jungle. and the Thrilla in Manila. He later became a successful New York real estate developer and launched a range of Southern-themed food products.

Lloyd Price performing Personality, his 1959 hit

Born in Kenner, Louisiana, Lloyd was one of 11 children (three girls and eight boys) of Beatrice and Louis Price, who owned a restaurant, Fish’n’Fry. Young Lloyd helped in the family business and developed his musical skills by singing with the gospel choir at the local church and learning to play the piano and trumpet. He liked to play the piano to the songs he listened to on the restaurant’s jukebox, especially Louis Jordan’s Saturday Night Fried Fish.

After leaving high school, he started a band with his brother Leo. They were given a slot on radio station WBOK, where Price was impressed by the catchphrase used by the DJ, Okey Dokey, to promote the station’s sponsor: “Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Mother’s Homemade Cakes and Maxwell House Coffee!”

Price recalled, “I took that and made a song out of it. And that beat, that slow rock thing? … My brother Leo hit a pot and started his own rhythm. ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ brought that beat to everyone. “

Lloyd Price performing with Elton John, left, in 2011.
Lloyd Price performing with Elton John, left, in 2011. Photograph: Evan Agostini / AP

With the help of New Orleans bandleader Dave Bartholomew, who introduced Price to Los Angeles-based Specialty Records’ Art Rupe, Price recorded Lawdy Miss Clawdy with a band that included Fats Domino on piano and vocals. drummer Earl Palmer. The record topped Billboard’s rhythm and blues chart and made history by crossing over to white radio stations.

Price followed up with a quartet of Top 10 R&B hits, Oooh Oooh Oooh, Restless heart, Isn’t it a shame? Y Tell me pretty baby. However, in the segregated America of the 1950s, Price’s popularity with black and white listeners became a political issue. He recalled that the recruiting board told him in 1953 that “I had to go to the service because of what my music was doing, this Lawdy Miss Clawdy thing was causing integration.”

He was sent to South Korea via Japan and performed on military bases. Some army lawyers advised him on the advisability of controlling his own music publication.

Discharged from the army in 1956, he created his own label, KRC Records, on which he released a new single, Just because (inspired by a melody from Verdi’s Rigoletto). However, this did not become a success until 1957, when it was bought by ABC-Paramount, although Price made sure to keep the publication. “I got 10% when Nat King Cole was only getting 5%,” he said. It reached number 3 on the R&B chart and 29 on the mainstream pop chart.

Lloyd Price, left, and Mary Wilson of the Supremes with boxer Evander Holyfield.
Lloyd Price, left, and Mary Wilson of the Supremes with boxer Evander Holyfield in 2003. Photograph: Frank Franklin II / AP

In 1958 he scored his only number one hit on the major charts (and another number one R&B) with Stagger Lee, a version of the creepy traditional murder ballad also recorded by artists from Duke Ellington and Woody Guthrie to Ike, Tina Turner and Bob Dylan. . .

To his exasperation, Price had to re-record his voice with new, nondescript lyrics for Dick Clark’s American Bandstand TV show. Over the next two years, Price released a string of hits, with elaborate vocal and instrumental arrangements, including Where Were You, Personality, Come Into My Heart, and Lady Luck.

In association with concert promoter Harold Logan, Price formed the music publishing house Lloyd & Logan Music, and in 1963 they launched the record label Double L, which released Wilson Pickett’s debut album It’s Too Late and delivered Price’s Top 30 hit, Misty (1963). .

In 1968, the duo opened Lloyd Price’s Turntable Club on the site of the old Birdland jazz club on Broadway, but after receiving numerous threats, Logan was shot and killed in his office in 1969. Price decided he needed a change of scenery and, after a brief stay in Philadelphia, heading to Nigeria.

A friend of King and Ali, Price joined King in promoting the 1974 Ali / George Foreman heavyweight fight in Zaire, dubbed Rumble in the Jungle, as well as the accompanying concert with James Brown, Miriam Makeba and BB King. For an encore, King and Price staged 1975’s Thrilla in Manila, where Ali fought Joe Frazier. In the television biopic Don King: Only in America (1997) Price was portrayed by Vondie Curtis-Hall alongside Ving Rhames as King. Price recorded a hip-hop version of Personality as the film’s closing theme.

Returning from Nigeria in 1983 after the government was overthrown in a coup, Price displayed increased entrepreneurial talent by forming two construction companies and pursuing real estate development. He also built a recording studio near his home in Westchester County, New York, and launched his range of food products under the Global Icon Brands umbrella.

In 1993 he toured Europe with Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and joined the Four Kings of Rhythm and Blues tour in 2005 alongside Jerry Butler, Ben E King and Gene Chandler. He received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010, and in 2019 he was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. In 2009 he published the autobiography Lawdy Miss Clawdy: The True King of the ’50s, and in 2015 a collection of essays, Sumdumhonky.

He is survived by his wife, Jackie Battle, three daughters Lori, D’Juana and December, two sons, Lloyd Jr and Paris, and a sister, Rose.

Lloyd Price, singer, songwriter and businessman, born March 9, 1933; died on May 3, 2021

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