Lloyd Price (born March 9, 1933) is an American R&B vocalist. Known as “Mr. Personality”, after one of his million-selling hits. His first recording, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, was a hit on Specialty Records in 1952, and although he continued to release records, none were as popular until several years later, when he refined the New Orleans beat and achieved a series of national hits. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Born in Kenner, Louisiana, United States, and growing up in a suburb of New Orleans, Price had formal musical training in trumpet and piano, sang in his church’s gospel choir, and was a member of a combo in high school. His mother, Beatrice Price, owned the Fish ‘n’ Fry Restaurant, and Price picked up a lifelong interest in business and in food from her.
When Art Rupe of Specialty Records came to New Orleans scouting for talent and heard Price’s song, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, he wanted to record it. Because Price did not have a band (though he would eventually start his own band in 1949), Rupe hired Dave Bartholomew and his band (which included Fats Domino on piano) to do the arrangements and back up Price in the recording session. The song turned out to be a massive hit and his next release cut at the same session, “Oooh, Oooh, Oooh” a much smaller one. Price continued making recordings for Speciality but did not chart any further hits at that time.
In 1954 he was drafted and ended up in Korea. When he returned he found he had been replaced by Little Richard. In addition, his former chauffeur, Larry Williams, was also recording for the label, having released “Short Fat Fannie”.
Price eventually formed KRC Records with Harold Logan and Bill Boskent. The first single was “Just Because”. It was picked up by ABC Records and from 1957 to 1959 Price recorded a series of national hits on ABC Records that were successful adaptations of the New Orleans sound, such as “Stagger Lee”, “Personality”, which reached #2, and the #3 hit “I’m Gonna Get Married”. “Stagger Lee” topped the pop and R&B charts, sold over a million copies. Dick Clark insisted the violent content of the song be toned down when Price appeared on American Bandstand but it was still the “violent” version that was on top of the R&B charts of 1959. “Stack-o-Lee” is an old blues standard recorded many times previously by other artists. Greil Marcus, in a critical analysis of the song’s history, has written that Price’s was an enthusiastic hard rock version with a screaming saxophone. In all of these early recordings of Lloyd Price, “Personality”, Stagger Lee”, “I’m Gonna Get Married”, etc., Merritt Mel Dalton was the lead sax man; he was in the traveling band as well and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Price. The personnel on the original hit recording of “Stagger Lee” included Clarence Johnson on bass, John Patton on bass, Charles McClendon and Eddie Saunders on tenor sax, Ted Curson on trumpet and Sticks Simpkins on drums.
In 1962, Price formed Double L Records with Logan. Wilson Pickett got his start on this label. In 1969, Logan was murdered. Price then founded a new label, Turntable, and opened a club by the same name in New York City.
During the 1970s Price owned a Manhattan restaurant-nightclub called Turntable and helped Don King promote fights including Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle.” He later became a builder, erecting 42 town houses in the Bronx.
Price toured Europe in 1993 with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Gary U.S. Bonds. He performed in 2005 with soul legends Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, and Ben E. King for the “Four Kings of Rhythm and Blues” tour, concerts captured for a DVD and PBS television special.