Lloyd Price, ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ singer, dead at 88

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer-songwriter Lloyd Price, an early rock ’n roll star and enduring maverick whose hits included such up-tempo favorites as “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality” and the semi-forbidden “Stagger Lee,” has died. He was 88.

Price died Monday at a long-term care facility in New Rochelle, New York, of issues from diabetes, his spouse, Jacqueline Price, informed The Associated Press on Saturday.

Lloyd Price, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, was among the many final survivors of a post-World War II scene in New Orleans that anticipated the shifts in widespread music and tradition resulting in the rise of rock within the mid-Fifties. Along with Fats Domino and David Bartholomew amongst others, Price usual a deep, exuberant sound across the brass and swing of New Orleans jazz and blues that positioned excessive on R&B charts and ultimately crossed over to white audiences.

“Very important part of Rock history. He was BEFORE Little Richard!” rock singer and E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt said Saturday on Twitter. “Lawdy Miss Clawdy of 1952 has a legit claim as the first Rock hit…. Righteous cat. Enormous talent.”


Price’s nickname was “Mr. Personality,” becoming for a performer with a heat smile and a tenor voice to match. But he was excess of an interesting entertainer. He was unusually unbiased for his time, operating his personal report label even earlier than such stars as Frank Sinatra did the identical, holding on to his publishing rights, and serving as his personal agent and supervisor. He would typically converse of the racial injustices he endured, calling his memoir “sumdumhonkey” and writing on his Facebook web page in the course of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests that behind his “affable exterior” was “a man who is seething.”

Born in Kenner, Louisiana, one among 11 siblings, Price had been singing in church and taking part in piano since childhood. He was in his late teenagers when a neighborhood DJ’s favourite catchphrase, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” helped encourage him to jot down his boundary-breaking first hit, which he labored on in his mom’s fried fish restaurant.

Featuring Domino’s trademark piano trills, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” hit No. 1 on the R&B charts in 1952, offered greater than 1 million copies and have become a rock customary, coated by Elvis Presley and Little Richard amongst others. But Price would have blended emotions in regards to the tune’s broad attraction, later remembering how native officers within the Jim Crow South resisted letting each blacks and whites attend his exhibits.


Price was drafted and spent the mid-Fifties in navy service in Korea. He started a profession restart with the 1957 ballad “Just Because,” and hit the highest with the brassy, pop-oriented “Stagger Lee,” one of many catchiest, most celebratory songs ever recorded a couple of barroom homicide.

Written by Price, “Stagger Lee” was based mostly on a nineteenth century combat between two Black males — Lee Shelton, generally generally known as Stag Lee, and Billy Lyons — that ended with Shelton taking pictures and killing his rival. Their ever-changing legend was showing in songs by the Nineteen Twenties, and has impressed artists starting from Woody Guthrie and Duke Ellington to Bob Dylan and the Clash.

Price’s model opened with a number of spoken phrases that had the understated rigidity of against the law novel: “The night was clear, the moon was yellow, and the leaves came tumbling … down.” The band jumps in and Price shouts out the story of Stagger Lee and Billy combating over a sport of cube, concluding with a bullet from Stagger Lee’s 44 passing via Billy and breaking the bartender’s glass. “Go Stagger Lee!” a refrain chants all through.

The tune reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart early in 1959, however not everybody was entertained. “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark frightened the tune was too violent for his teen-centered present and pressed Price to revise it: For “Bandstand” watchers and a few future listeners, Stagger Lee and Billy peacefully resolve their dispute.

“I had to go make up some lyrics about Stagger Lee and Billy being in some kind of squabble about a girl,” Price informed Billboard in 2013. “It didn’t make any sense at all. It was ridiculous.”

Price adopted with the highest 10 hits “Personality” and “I’m Going To Get Married” and the highest 20 songs “Lady Luck” and “Question.” He fared no higher than a lot of his contemporaries as soon as the Beatles arrived within the U.S. in 1964, however he discovered his manner into different professions via a variety of buddies and acquittances. He lived for a time in the identical Philadelphia residence complicated as Wilt Chamberlain and Joe Frazier and, together with boxing promoter Don King, helped stage the 1973 “Thrilla in Manila” between Frazier and Muhammad Ali and the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” championship combat between Ali and George Foreman. He was additionally a house builder, a reserving agent, a superb bowler and the creator of a line of meals merchandise.

His profession in music continued, sporadically. He and his enterprise accomplice Harold Logan began a label within the early Sixties, Double L Records, that gave an early break to Wilson Pickett, and so they additionally ran a New York nightclub. But after Logan was murdered, in 1969, Price turned so disheartened he ultimately moved to Nigeria and didn’t return till the Eighties. He would turn into a favourite on oldies excursions, performing with Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis amongst others.

He settled in New York together with his spouse, however was not forgotten again dwelling. A road in Kenner was renamed Lloyd Price Avenue and for years Kenner has celebrated an annual Lloyd Price Day.

Price would credit score clear residing and regular focus for his endurance.

“I never drank, smoked, used drugs or had bad habits,” he informed interviewer Larry Katz in 1998. “I’d drive a taxi cab to get me the food I need to live. I never was starstruck. I had 23 hit records and I never looked for the next record to hit. I never had that need that they had to be somebody. I just wanted to be.”

— Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

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