Inductee: Lloyd Price (vocals; born 3/9/33)
Lloyd Price is widely known as “Mr. Personality,” a nickname copped from one his best-known songs, “Personality,” from 1959. Among the premier rhythm & blues singers of the Fifties and Sixties, the Louisiana native can also claim a host of other talents: musician, bandleader, songwriter, producer, record-company executive and booking agent. In his prime he recorded for the Specialty and ABC-Paramount labels. The bulk of his R&B sides were cut for Specialty and bear the hallmark of the New Orleans sound. His biggest hit, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” was an original song produced by Dave Bartholomew and featuring Fats Domino on piano. Based on a commercial jingle he’d written, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” topped the R&B charts for seven weeks in 1952. It was also widely covered, both in the Fifties and beyond, by the likes of Elvis Presley (who performed it on his 1968 NBC-TV special), the Buckinghams, John Lennon and Elvis Costello. “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” is a rhythm & blues classic that helped give birth to rock and roll.
Price recorded more hits during his early-Fifties tenure at Specialty, but his career was interrupted by the Korean War. Upon returning from three years of service, he launched KRC (Kent Record Company) with Harold Logan, a longtime friend and collaborator. A shrewd businessman, Price leased his recordings to ABC-Paramount, thereby retaining control of his music while receiving national distribution. His most renowned recording came with “Stagger Lee,” an R&B remake of the folk-blues standard “Stack-o-Lee” that topped the pop and R&B charts. Recorded versions of the song date back to the Twenties, but Price’s “takes the prize,” according to Greil Marcus in a detailed analysis of the song’s roots and evolution. “Price’s record was hard rock, driven by a wailing sax, and in retrospect his manic enthusiasm seems to be what many earlier versions lacked,” wrote Marcus.
Price’s biggest year was 1959, during which he released four hits: “Personality,” “Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day),” “I’m Gonna Get Married” and “Come Into My Heart.” His entrepreneurial skill led to the helming of more labels (Double-L and Turntable), as well as a New York City nightclub (Lloyd Price’s Turntable). Double-L launched the recording career of Wilson Pickett in 1963. Price continued to place his own recordings on the R&B charts into the Seventies. Meanwhile, he performed around the country with a nine-piece band while keeping a resourceful hand in various other entrepreneurial pursuits and ventures.
March 9, 1933: Lloyd Price was born in Kenner, Louisiana.
March 3, 1952: Lloyd Price cuts “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” for Specialty Records in New Orleans. It tops the R&B and Best Seller charts for seven weeks.
1953-1956: Lloyd Price serves in the U.S. Army. His military hitch temporarily ends a five-song hit streak that included the double-sided hits “Oooh, Oooh, Oooh” (#4 R&B) b/w “Restless Heart” (#5 R&B) and “Tell Me Pretty Baby” (#8 R&B) b/w “Ain’t It a Shame” (#6 and #4 R&B, in separate chartings).
March 3, 1957: “Just Because,” Lloyd Price’s post-Army debut for the ABC-Paramount label, enters the singles charts, peaking at #3 R&B and #29 pop.
February 14, 1959: Price’s version of “Stagger Lee” tops the R&B and pop charts for the first of four weeks.
May 18, 1959: Lloyd Price’s “Personality” enters the R&B chart, where it will repeat the feat “Stagger Lee” achieved earlier in the year of topping that chart for four weeks. It will peak at #2 on the pop side, as well.
1959: Lloyd Price hits #4 on the R&B chart and #23 (3/30) on the pop chart with “Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)?”, #1 on the R&B chart and #2 (6/15) on the pop chart with “Personality”, #1 on the R&B chart and #3 (9/14) on the pop chart with “I’m Gonna Get Married” and #3 on the R&B chart and #20 (12/07) on the pop chart with “Come Into My Heart”.
June 15, 1959: Lloyd Price hits #2 with “Personality”.
March 21, 1960: Lloyd Price hits #3 on the R&B chart and #14 on the pop chart with “Lady Luck”.
July 11, 1960: “Question” becomes Lloyd Price’s 15th Top Ten R&B hit since his debut eight years earlier.
October 18, 1963: Lloyd Price’s version of Errol Garner’s “Misty,” issued on his own Double-L label, enters the R&B chart, where it reaches #11.
1969: Lloyd Price launches a nightclub (Turntable) and label (Turntable Records) in New York.
September 1, 1974: Lloyd Price stages a music festival in Zaire, Africa, with boxing promoter Don King. The event attracts 120,000 people and offers James Brown, B.B. King, Etta James, Bill Withers, the Spinners and others.
March 18, 1994: Lloyd Price receives the Pioneer Award at the sixth annual Rhythm and Blues Foundation ceremonies in Los Angeles.
January 12, 1998: Lloyd Price is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the thirteenth annual induction dinner. Tony Rich is his presenter.
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Ain’t It a Shame
I’m Gonna Get Married
Tell Me Pretty Baby
Come Into My Heart
“Lloyd Price: Mr. Personality”
David Booth. Goldmine (May 17, 1991): 108-119+.
I Hear You Knockin’: The Sound of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues
Jeff Hannusch. London: Swallow Publishing, 1986.