Tonight I would like to deal with a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer! When Art Rupe of Specialty Records went to New Orleans in 1952, he heard what is now a Rock and Roll Classic, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy“, written and sung by one “Lloyd Price”. Art wanted it recorded, but Lloyd did not have a band, so he hired Dave Bartholomew and his band, which had as a piano player one “Antoine Fats Domino”.
Now Lloyd had formal musical training and was a trumpet & piano player, plus he wrote and arranged. He did one classic song for Specialty, plus some others and then was drafted and went to Korea in 1954. When he came back, he started again, became bigger than ever, and the rest they say is music history.
We will deal with the very old Specialty Records First…
1. Lawdy Miss Clawdy/ Specialty/ 1952/ # 1 R& B
2A. OOOH, OOOH, OOOH,/ Specialty A side./ 1952/ # 4 R&B
2B. Restless Heart/ B side/ 1952/ # 5 R&R
3A. Ain’t it a Shame/ Specialty/ 1953/ # 4 R&B
3B. Tell me Pretty Baby/ B side/ 1953/ # 8 R&B
We will now deal with his later recordings for ABC Paramount…
1. Just Because/ ABC 9792/ 4/6/57/ # 29 Billboard
2. Stagger Lee/ ABC 9972/ 1/5/59/ # 1 (4) Billboard
3. Where where you on our Wedding Day/ ABC 9997/3/30/59/ # 23 Billboard
4. You’ve Got Personality/ ABC 10018/ 5/11/59/ # 2 (3) Billboard
5. I’m Gonna Get Married/ ABC 10032/ 8/17/59/ # 3 Billboard
6. Come into my Heart/ ABC 10062/ 11/23/59/ # 20 Billboard
7. Lady Luck/ ABC 10075/ 2/15/60/ # 14 Billboard
8. No If’s – No And’s/ ABC 10102/ 5/30/60/ # 40 Billboard
9. Question/ ABC 10123/ 7/18/60/ # 19 Billboard
10. Misty/ Double-L 722/ 10/26/63/ # 21 Billboard
Lloyd Price, not entirely content with being a 1950’s R&B star on the strength of his immortal New Orleans classic “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” yearned for massive pop acceptance. He found it, too, with a storming rock & roll reading of the ancient blues “Stagger Lee” and the unabashedly pop-slanted “Personality” and “I’m Gonna Get Married” (the latter pair sounding far removed indeed from his Crescent City beginnings).
Growing up in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans, Price was exposed to seminal sides by Louis Jordan, the Liggins brothers, Roy Milton, and Amos Milburn through the jukebox in his mother’s little fish-fry joint.
Lloyd and his younger brother Leo (who later co-wrote Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin’“) put together a band for local consumption while in their teens. Bandleader Dave Bartholomew was impressed enough to invite Specialty Records boss Art Rupe to see the young singer (this was apparently when Bartholomew was momentarily at odds with his longtime employers at rival Imperial).
At his very first Specialty date in 1952, Price sang his classic eight-bar blues “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (its rolling piano intro courtesy of a moonlighting Fats Domino. It topped the R&B charts for an extended period, making Price a legitimate star before he was old enough to vote.
Four more Specialty smashes followed — “Oooh, Oooh, Oooh,” “Restless Heart,” “Tell Me Pretty Baby,” “Ain’t It a Shame” — before Price was drafted into the Army and deposited unhappily in Korea.
When he finally managed to break free of the military, Price formed his own label, KRC Records, with partners Harold Logan and Bill Boskent and got back down to business.
“Just Because,” a plaintive ballad Price first cut for KRC, held enough promise to merit national release on ABC-Paramount in 1957 (his ex-valet, Larry Williams, covered it on Price’s former label, Specialty).
“Stagger Lee,” Price’s adaptation of the old Crescent City lament “Stack-A-Lee,” topped both the R&B and pop lists in 1958. By now, his sound was taking on more of a cosmopolitan bent, with massive horn sections and prominent pop background singers. Dick Clark insisted on toning down the violence inherent to the song’s story line for the squeaky-clean American Bandstand audience, accounting for the two different versions of the song you’re likely to encounter on various reissues.
After Price hit with another solid rocker, “Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)?” in 1959, the heavy brass-and-choir sound became his trademark at ABC-Paramount. “Personality,” “I’m Gonna Get Married,” and “Come Into My Heart” all shot up the pop and R&B lists in 1959, and “Lady Luck” and “Question” followed suit in 1960.
Always a canny businessman, Price left ABC-Paramount in 1962 to form another firm of his own with Logan. Double L Records debuted Wilson Pickett as a solo artist and broke Price’s Vegas lounge-like reading of “Misty” in 1963.
Later, he ran yet another label, Turntable Records (its 45s bore his photo, whether on his own sizable 1969 hit “Bad Conditions” or when the single was by Howard Tate!), and operated a glitzy New York nightspot by the same name.
Lloyd was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.