One of the few rock artists to be an equal star in the early 1950’s with an all-black audience and at the end of the decade when the music had crossed over, although he did change his style somewhat do so before branching out into owning labels and other management pursuits.

Lloyd Price was born in Kenner, Louisiana in 1933 where his mother owned and operated a restaurant, learning trumpet and piano as a kid and just after turning 19 auditioned for Art Rupe and had his first recording session which had an enormous impact on the New Orleans record scene, as well as resulting in his all-time greatest record, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, a #1 hit for seven weeks that summer.

Produced by Dave Bartholomew, two of the other three songs cut that day were hits as well and he got two more hits out of the next Bartholomew led session a few months later, but that first date was most notable for reuniting Bartholomew with Fats Domino after more than a year apart, as Fats stopped by the studio and was coaxed into playing the distinctive piano part on Price’s debut smash.

When Imperial Records re-hired Bartholomew on the strength of that record, Price was left without a sympathetic producer and got only one more hit on his own while at Specialty over the next few years, although most of his records continued to sell locally.

Before he was drafted into the Army in 1954 Price talked Little Richard, who’d failed to score a hit at either of the two companies he’d recorded for and was back in Georgia washing dishes at a bus station, into sending Art Rupe a demo which subsequently lay untouched for almost a year before Rupe and producer Bumps Blackwell listened and signed Richard who became their all-time biggest act.

When Price got out of the Army he wanted to shift to more of a pop sound which Rupe felt was non-commercial and so he gave him his release. When Price’s first record for his own KRC label, “Just Because” began making noise, ABC-Paramount picked it up and signed him to a contract while his old boss Art Rupe took Price’s former chauffeur Larry Williams into the studio and cut a cover version which launched Williams’ career, giving Specialty a handful of huge hits to close out the decade.

But Price became even bigger than that, merging rock ‘n’ roll with brassy tracks and chirping choirs perfect the watered down American Bandstand era. He scored his biggest hits over the next two years, including three #1 R&B hits in a one year span, one of which, a remake of Archibald’s “Stagger Lee”, topped the Pop Charts as well while he earned the nickname Mr. Personality from another of his Top Three hits.

In 1962, still hot as an artist, Price and business partner Harold Logan started Double L records whose biggest signing was a young Wilson Pickett who scored three hits before moving to Atlantic and becoming one of the biggest rock stars of the ensuing decade.

Though he continued to sing, Price’s outside activities in entertainment were taking up more time, including operating the Birdland nightclub in New York, at which his partner Logan was killed late in the decade, and running another label called Turntable.

In 1974 Price was one of the boxing promoters responsible for the legendary Rumble In The Jungle heavyweight championship fight between challenger Muhammad Ali and champion George Foreman. In addition to these activities Price owned and operated construction companies and marketing a line of of his own Southern food.

In 1998 Price was elected to The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame and in the years to come wrote two books chronicling his life and career as well as what it was like to be a black man in a world as segregation slowly – but eventually – crumbled. Throughout it all he continued performing, releasing his final album in 2012, sixty years after he first cut a record.

Price died at the age of 88 in 2021, possessor of 32 charted singles, including two of the most monumental hits of the Nineteen Fifties on the way to a career that was far broader than most of his peers.

LLOYD PRICE DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Specialty 428, April, 1952)
One of rock’s most impressive and impactful debuts, a #1 hit for seven weeks and a prime example of the New Orleans sound produced as by Dave Bartholomew with Fats Domino on piano on a song that presents Price’s emotional conflict over a girl in a dramatic and realistic way. (9)

(Specialty 428; April, 1952)
A solid story, a great arrangement and good vocals reaffirm Price’s abilities, but the song got overlooked coming as it did on the back half of his runaway hit on the top side when it’d have been much better utilized as a follow-up that had hit potential of its own. (7)

(Specialty 440; August, 1952)
Though a sizable hit this shows the limitations of Price as an artist, as his songwriting consists of lifting a recent hit’s melody and attaching a skimpy new story to it padded by incoherent wailing, forcing the record to be salvaged by Dave Bartholomew’s mighty band. (6)

(Specialty 440; August, 1952)
Shameless reworking of his own hit which may have some decent new lyrics, but what good is it when his melody and cadences have you singing something else, leaving it to Dave Bartholomew’s band to alter the arrangement enough to compensate for the imitative idea. (4)