Lloyd Price, the ‘50s R&B vocalist whose early singles were among the first to attract attention from the nascent rock ‘n’ roll audience, died Thursday. He was 88.
Maxwell Entertainment owner Rickey Poppell posted the news on Facebook, saying, “My friend and Lloyd Price’s manager, Tom Trapani, just called to let me know that our friend, Lloyd, passed away last night. Those of us close to Lloyd have been keeping his declining health issues to our selves for the past five years, while Tom kept me up to date along the way. Lloyd was one of the sweetest, caring and kindest man I’ve ever known, I’ll miss him. My prayers go out to his lovely wife, Jackie.”
The New Orleans-born singer burst onto the national scene in 1952 with his first single, the self-penned “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” for the L.A.-based label Specialty Records. Bearing the distinctive Crescent City “stroll” rhythm – the product of an arrangement featuring pianist Fats Domino and drummer Earl Palmer of Dave Bartholomew’s studio band – it leaped to No. 1 on the national R&B chart.
In an interview with writer Andy Schwartz that prefaced his 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Price noted how his hit broke new ground with listeners who previously hadn’t cocked an ear to black music.
“I revolutionized the South,” he said. “Before ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy,’ white kids were not really interested in this music. People like Charles Brown and Fats Domino really only sold to the black community. But 10 months after I was in business, they were putting up ropes to divide the white and black spectators. But by 10 o’clock at night, they’d all be together on that dance floor.”
At least one important rock ‘n’ roll performer was paying close attention to what Price was up to: At his second recording session for RCA Records in 1956, Elvis Presley recorded a fierce cover of “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.”
Four more top-five R&B singles succeeded that initial hit, but Price’s career screeched to a halt when he was drafted in 1953. Upon his return from the Army, he discovered that in his absence Specialty had devoted its attentions to a wild piano-pounding singer from Georgia: Little Richard.
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SOURCE: Variety, Chris Morris