The first release

The single was released in 1952, spending seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B chart.  It was also the R&B Record of the Year in both Billboard and Cashbox magazines, and went on to sell over a million copies.

A Young Lloyd Price

Sadly, Price wasn’t able to build on his success, because he was called into the army and sent to serve in the Korean War. When he came back home, he was a bit older and a lot wiser. He bought out his contract with Specialty Records for a thousand dollars and teamed up with a friend Harold Logan to set up his own record label KRC (Kent Record Company). What a brave move for a young black musician. At the same time, he left New Orleans and moved to Washington DC, signing for ABC-Paramount Records. He was obviously a brave and ambitious young man.

When Price’s contract with ABC ended in 1963, he once more took control of his career. With his partner Harold Logan, he founded Double L Records, in order to release his own records. He also signed other acts, including a young singer called Wilson Pickett, whom he heard singing at a show in Flint, Michigan.

Price also saw an opportunity to develop live music. He bought the famous jazz club Birdland on Broadway in New York and renamed it the Lloyd Price Turntable. He had played at the club in April 1964 and could see that there were very few venues in New York where R&B stars could play. He booked James Brown, Maxine Brown, The Coasters, Chubby Checker, Patti LaBelle And The Bluebelles, King Curtis and many others.

His own songs were less successful now and, when his partner and friend Harold Logan was murdered in 1969, Price decided to take a different road. Price moved to Africa, where, working  with his friend Don King, he helped to promote Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle boxing match. He also produced the Zaire 74 music festival in Kinshasa.

Price toured Europe in 1993 with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Gary U.S. Bonds, playing at Wembley Arena in front of 11,000 people. It was his first live performance in the UK. Twelve years later, Price performed with soul legends Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler and Ben E. King on the “Four Kings of Rhythm and Blues” tour in 2005. Price received the Pioneer Award at the sixth annual Rhythm and Blues Foundation ceremony in Los Angeles in 1994 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame on March 9th 2010, his 77th birthday, in New Orleans.

Lloyd Price 1988
So why is Lloyd Price such an important figure in the history of modern music? There are three main reasons.
He took the baton from Fats Domino and handed it on to Little Richard and Elvis Presley. His songs formed the template for New Orleans R&B, his performances set the style for those who followed him. Little Richard and Elvis Presley both recorded “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” in 1956; so did Fats Domino, Ronnie Hawkins, Carl Perkins, Eric Burdon and many others.
Then he showed how a singer could take control of his or her career and build a music-based series of businesses. From 1952 Price has issued a string of classic singles, has released twenty-seven albums, has owned three record labels and a music venue on Broadway. The Lloyd Price Turntable club became the template for later well-known businesses. “It was the biggest club in town. We had 378 seats with a cabaret licence and it changed the way New York worked in terms of clubs – the stage came out of the floor, we had disco lights, strobe lights, we had a recording studio and we recorded all the shows. It was a magnificent operation. It also provided the prototype for the Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood. We had young adults eating hamburgers and french fries and listening to music. That’s where the idea for that type of thing began.” (Classic Rock magazine, January 15, 2016).Finally, he showed how folk music, jazz, blues and R&B could evolve into something that would appeal to young people everywhere: Rock & Roll. And, as a spin-off from this appeal, young black people in the United States and elsewhere grew in confidence. Lloyd Price understood what he and his contemporaries had achieved. “The black and white kids kept dancing together” (Classic Rock magazine, January 15, 2016). For him “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” had ignited a spark, four years before Rosa Parks sat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. “This music played such an important role, not just in the US but around the world. This record caused the bell to ring for civil rights. People heard the call through the beat of the music.”In 2015, Price’s collection of essays on the African American experience was published with the interesting name of “Sumdumhonky”.
Headline Photo: HughDoneIt   2018
Photo 2: Not In Hall of Fame
Photo 3: John Mathew Smith &   2018(Wikimedia Commons)