Lloyd Price, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer behind such classic hits as “Personality” and “Stagger Lee,” has died at the age of 88.
Price’s death was confirmed by his widow, Jackie. “I am so touched by the outpouring of love and tribute for the passing of my husband Lloyd Price, who passed peacefully on May 3, 2021 at Schaffer Extended Care in Westchester County, N.Y.,” she explained to Billboard. “Lloyd’s music crossed many boundaries and carried him to all corners of the world. He got the nickname ‘Mr. Personality’ because of his biggest hit but he also earned that name because he was charismatic, generous, smart, funny, talented with a very kind heart. I am so grateful for everyone who loves his music and have precious memories of his many songs. From the deepest part of me thank you, love to all.”
Price was born and raised in New Orleans, where he honed his voice as a singer in the local church choir. He scored his first No. 1 R&B hit in 1952 with the song “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” The single, which featured Fats Domino on piano, sold more than 1 million copies and was later covered by such rock icons as Elvis Presley and Little Richard.
In 1954, the singer’s music career was interrupted when he was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in the Korean War.Three years later, he’d return to the States and hit No. 3 on the R&B chart with his 1957 single “Just Because.”
Soon thereafter, Price would score his first crossover hit with 1958’s “Stagger Lee.” The tune hit No. 1 on both the pop and R&B charts, despite its inspiration stemming from a real-life murder.
Prince would go on to have a string of hits in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, including “Personality,” “I’m Gonna Get Married,” “Come Into My Heart,” “Lady Luck” and “Question,” all of which peaked within the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.
As musical tastes in the ‘60s began to shift, Prince turned his attention to other lines of work. He started his own record label (one of several he would help lead over his life) and even briefly ran a New York City nightclub called Turntable.
In the ‘70s, Price worked with Don King to promote two of boxing’s biggest bouts: 1973’s Thrilla in Manila between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, and 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle between Ali and George Foreman.
Later in life, Price would spend many years touring alongside like minded R&B/rock pioneers, such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Price was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2009, he released his autobiography, Lawdy Miss Clawdy: The True King of the 50’s — The Lloyd Price Story. As recently as 2018, he’d been working on a stage musical based on his life story.
As news of Price’s passing began to spread, several notable rockers took to social media to share their thoughts (see below).