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Lloyd Price (1933–2021), R&B pioneer known for “Personality,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”

by Linnea Crowther

Lloyd Price was one of the great R&B stars of the 1950s and ‘60s, known for hits including “Personality” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.”

Mr. Personality

Price was still a teen when he recorded his first hit, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” in 1952. Written by Price and recorded with Fats Domino (1928–2017) on piano, it became an R&B hit and was one of the legendary tracks that helped lay the groundwork for the development of rock and roll. “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” was later recorded by artists including Elvis Presley (1935–1977) and Paul McCartney.

Price took time off from his recording career to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. When he returned home, he jumped back into music with the 1958 No. 1 crossover hit “Stagger Lee.” Next up was “Personality,” another crossover hit that made it to No. 2 on the Hot 100 in 1959 and became the basis of Price’s nickname, “Mr. Personality.” That same year, Price also had a hit with “I’m Gonna Get Married.”

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In later years, Price became a promoter, working with Don King on the iconic “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match as well as promoting concerts. He was also an entrepreneur with a line of Southern foods including Lawdy Miss Clawdy Sweet Potato Cookies and Lloyd Price’s Soulful ‘n’ Smooth Grits. In 1998, Price was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Price on his earliest days as a performer

“My mother had a sandwich shop, and there weren’t more than 10 records on the juke box, but I knew all 20 sides, both the ‘A’ sides and the ‘B’ sides. I’d sit there and listen to them as people came into the shop for sandwiches. It only cost a nickel, and I would dance and they’d throw pennies on the floor. I think that’s how it all really started. I just thought I could do it.” —from a 2017 interview with Jazz Weekly

Tributes to Lloyd Price

Full obituary: The New York Times

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