Born in Kenner, Louisiana, Lloyd Price studied trumpet and piano, sang in his church’s gospel choir and was a member of a high school combo in New Orleans. When Specialty Records’ Art Rupe came to town looking for talent and heard Price sing “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” he hired Dave Bartholomew and his band (including Fats Domino on piano) to back Lloyd on a recording of the song. The result was a #1 R&B smash in 1952, the first of five Top 10 R&B hits Price would rack up on Specialty over the next couple of years. The others: “Oooh Oooh Oooh,” “Restless Heart,” “Ain’t It a Shame” and “Tell Me Pretty Baby.” Then, in 1954, Lloyd was drafted and wound up in Korea.
Upon his return, Price found that Specialty was instead promoting their new find, Little Richard, and even Lloyd’s former chauffeur, Larry Williams. Feeling neglected, Price left Specialty and formed his own label, KRC, and on it released “Just Because.” When it began to catch on, ABC-Paramount Records bought the master, signed the singer-songwriter-musician and Lloyd began the most successful phase of his very long career.
His first new single for ABC Paramount was “Stagger Lee,” Price’s reworking of the traditional folk song “Stack-o-Lee.” Dick Clark insisted the song’s violent content be toned down when Price appeared on TV’s “American Bandstand” but it was Lloyd’s original “violent” recording that topped both the pop and R&B charts in 1959. Among Price’s other ABC Paramount hits: “I’m Gonna Get Married,” “Where Were You On Our Wedding Day,” “Come Into My Heart,” “Lady Luck,” “Question” and the song that sparked his lifelong nickname (“Mr. Personality”), 1959’s “Personality.”
Still interested in owning his own record company, Lloyd formed Double L Records in 1962 and scored the hit “Misty” on it. Double L was also the first recording home of future star Wilson Pickett. In 1969, Price also formed Turntable Records and opened a New York nightclub by the same name.
Eventually inducted into both the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the Rock ‘n; Roll Hall of Fame, Lloyd went on to build town houses in the Bronx and currently manages Icon Brands, which makes Lloyd Price’s Soulful ‘n’ Smooth Grits, Lloyd Price’s Energy-2-Eat Bar and an array of Lawdy Miss Clawdy collectibles. His hometown of Kenner, Louisiana now includes a Lloyd Price Avenue and celebrates an annual Lloyd Price Day.