Famed R&B crooner Lloyd Price, known in his heyday as “Mr. Personality,” has long enjoyed what few of his peers can claim: a nearly 70-year career as a shining star in the entertainment business.
The Kenner, La., singer-songwriter, who’s toured the world with the likes of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, reflected upon his longevity during a recent interview with fellow Louisiana-based artist Rudiger, who has written and recorded a tribute songbook based on nine of Price’s original song titles.
Price, 84, whose long list of hits includes “Restless Heart,” “Ain’t It a Shame,” “Stagger Lee” and his first chart-topping single, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” said the inspiration for his iconic 1952 hit came out of the blue.
“I was in my mother’s shop one day helping her, and I heard this voice from a black man named Okey Dokey Smith shout out, ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy, get your homemade pies and drink Maxwell House coffee,’” Price said during the interview with Richard Ricks, CEO of Kingdom of Camelot Publishing, which is putting out the Rudiger project.
Price said he then went to work on the song, which came together very quickly. The song has since been re-recorded 168 times, he said.
“It’s been recorded by the biggest rock stars in the world, and, as a matter of fact, it was the first record to ever sell one million copies,” Price said, telling Rudiger that, “besides Joe Cocker,” his version is “better than any of the people I’ve heard do it.”
Rudiger said he did the songbook project to show his appreciation for Price, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Price is featured in the songbook on a duet with Rudiger for a newly-written song inspired by his classic “I’m Gonna Get Married,” in which Price plays the preacher.
“As I was writing the song, I was searching the internet and [Kingdom of Camelot executive ‘Dollar’ Bill Waller] sent me a beautiful book on [Price’s] history and what he’d accomplished,” Rudiger said.
Price playfully recounted how he left his hometown after listening to raindrops on the tin roof of his family’s home, where he could see the moon shine through a nail hole.
“I used to look up at the ceiling at night, and when it rained you could hear the bang, bang,” Price said. “And there was a little nail hole in the tin and there was this one little drip with no way you could turn, because it just dripped on you. So when the moon was out, you could see it from the little light [streaming down] and there’s dust in the room, so you really see it.
“And I said one night, ‘Lord, I don’t know much about prayer but you’ve got to get me up out of here,” he said with a hearty burst of laughter.