Lloyd Price, Groundbreaking R&B Singer and ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ Dead at 88

by Evan Reier
Photo by George De Sota/Newsmakers)

Lloyd Price, one of the most important men to ever sing the rhythm & blues has sadly passed away at the age of 88.

Price changed the state of popular music in the United States as well as the world when he first hit the scene in the 1950s. His hits, “Personality,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” and “Just Because” are just a few of the songs that established him as a pioneer and as a star.

According to Variety, the unfortunate news was first announced by Rickey Poppell, owner of Maxwell Entertainment.

“My friend and Lloyd Prices’ manager, Tom Trapani,” Poppell wrote. “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.”

Lloyd Price had just turned 88 on March 9, and was born in 1933. Famously, Price was born and hailed from New Orleans, Louisiana, which was also the birthplace of his incredible sound.

Lloyd Price Changed Music Forever

Besides making some incredible tunes, arguably the biggest achievement of Lloyd Price was breaking racial lines with his music.

Segregation was still very much in effect when Price was growing up and in the early days of his career. His music famously started to permeate that division, with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” hitting airwaves in all parts of the country.

That initial success led to all types of important exposure, one of the most important being Elvis Presley’s 1956 cover of “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” Further, he made these strides just before serving in the U.S. army in Korea.

When he returned, he had to somewhat rebuild his reputation in music. It didn’t take long, as “Stagger Lee,” “Personality” and “I’m Gonna Get Married” all became smash-hits before the end of the 1950s.

While he still made music, he was famously a versatile entrepreneur. From selling food products to promoting the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Lloyd Price could seemingly do it all.

In 1988, when he was preparing to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was asked about his legacy. Per Variety, the answer was a perfect summation of what he meant to music and culture in the U.S.

“I revolutionized the South,” Price 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.”