New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
If anyone know what rock 'n' roll is, it is Lloyd
Price. Price was there at the beginning … well, before the beginning of rock 'n' roll. His debut release, the game-changing single "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," has been credited with helping to usher in rock 'n' roll music. The song topped the charts for seven weeks, and its historic success made Price the first American teenager to sell a million copies.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, well-known for his other crossover smash hits "Stagger Lee" and "Personality," returns with a vibrant new album, This Is Rock and Roll, due at brick and mortar retail on September
22, 2017, that finds him looking to the past, present and future. The New Orleans native travels back to his roots by covering a pair of Fats Domino numbers (Domino played piano on "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," by the way), as well as making stops at the Brill Building and Motown. However, the newer tunes, which lead off the album, demonstrate how vital a music-maker Price remains today.
With a roar of a bluesy rock guitar and a wail of saxophone, "I'm Getting Over You" gets This Is Rock and Roll off to an energizing start. Price says that this tale of heartbreak and survival "tells the truth on how people really feel — everyone has something to get over." He turns more romantic on "The Smoke," a silky, smooth tune that Price describes as "something different from what I have done before." Surrounding that track are two hard-hitting numbers. "Nobody Loves Anybody Anymore" delivers a funk-driven slice of social commentary that suggests vintage Marvin Gaye
and Curtis Mayfield. Price pulls no punches as he looks at the world today and declares, "If we don't get together we won't survive." He maintains this rock 'n' soul groove while making more barbed observations in "Our World," an updating of his 1969 hit "Bad Conditions," which remains relevant today as it was then.
When Price turns to songs to cover on This Is Rock and Roll, he definitely puts his own stamp on the material. His jaunty "Blueberry Hill" sits halfway between Fat Domino's famous version and the song's big-band origins, while Domino's own "I'm Walkin'" features a finger-snappy horn-powered arrangement. Horns team with some spirited electric guitar playing to support Price's joyous singing on the "I Can't Help Myself
" Motown medley. For Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," Price slows down the tempo, turning it into a ballad sung from a man's point-of-view.
Anchoring the center of the CD is the title track, which is coupled with "Peepin' & Hidin'." The old Jimmy Reed gem receives a bluesy, Ray Charles-style rendition, punctuated by Mick Gaffney guitar solo, before flowing into Price's celebratory call-and-response shout-out "This Is Rock and Roll." This track holds added significance because it was recorded live at the Cutting Room. It was a 2014 performance at this New York City club that inspired Price to make a new record. For the next few years, he worked on the album at several studios, but primarily at City Lights
Studios in Farmingdale, New Jersey. He reserves special praise for the studio's owner, producer Guy Daniels, for the great job he did capturing the live in-studio performances. Price wound up recording 27 songs, from which he picked ten that he felt sounded like "a reflection of the past but still right now."
Price's past is the stuff of legends. Born in Kenner, Louisiana on March 9, 1933, Price showed an interest, and ability, in music from a young age, and was playing in a New Orleans jazz/R&B combo while in high school. He was working in his mother's restaurant, the Fish N Fry, when the prominent New Orleans producer/talent scout Dave Bartholomew stopped in one day for food. Overhearing a teenage Price singing "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," the impressed Bartholomew signed him to Specialty Records. Price soon found himself recording that song in a New Orleans studio with a band that boasted Fats Domino on piano and Earl Palmer on drums.
"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" was not only one of 1953's top songs, but it served as a foundation block for New Orleans' now well-known R&B sound while also setting the stage for the rock 'n' roll revolution. Specialty Records' president Art Rupe has stated that "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" was the first black record to cross over to white audiences, particularly Southern white teens. Elvis Presley
was one such teen, and he recorded the song in 1956 and continued to play it throughout his career.
Elvis was just one of the many musicians attracted to Price's music. His songs have been covered nearly 600 times by such varied acts as the Beatles, (plus Paul McCartney
and John Lennon
on solo albums), Little
Richard, Fats Domino, Travis
Tritt, Roy Orbison, Joe Cocker, Tom Jones, Billy Joel, James
Brown, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac, Bono, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Costello, Frank Sinatra, Grateful Dead, Charlie Price, the Isley Bros., Al Hirt, and Dr. John.
The Korean War, and Army service, sidetracked Price's career in the 1950s. Price tells the story of how Rupe phoned him while he was stationed in Japan, saying he needed a new act since Price was in the Army. Price recommended a then little-known performer named Little
Richard and the rest, as they say, is history. "I knocked my own self down," Price admits with a laugh and no regrets. After the war, Price climbed back into the charts with hits like "I'm Gonna Get Married," Stagger Lee," and "Personality," which has had a long life on TV and ads. All told, Price has seen 15 of his records became top ten R&B hits.
It was during these post-war years that Price started exploring his entrepreneurial side. He founded his first record label, KRC, with partners Harold Logan and Bill Boskent. In the early '60s, he started two more labels, Double
L Records (which released Wilson Pickett's debut record) and Turntable Records (whose roster included acts like Howard
Tate). Turntable shared its name with Price's Manhattan nightclub, located where Birdland had been at 52nd St. & Broadway; Turntable made Price was one of the first black Americans to own and operate a nightclub in New York City. It was at the club that his long-time business partner Logan was murdered in 1969. Price says that his then-upcoming single "Bad Conditions" was on the record player when Logan was found dead.
Following Logan's death, Price turn away from the music business to other endeavors. With Don King, he co-produced two of Muhammed Ali's most famous (and lucrative) fights: "Rumble in the Jungle" (vs. George
Foreman) and "Thrilla In Manila (vs. Joe Frazier). Price proudly states that the $5 million payday the boxers received helped to change the pay structure for all athletes.
Price's other business ventures have included building middle-class housing the South Bronx and manufacturing sports equipment (as a youth Price boxed under the name Kid Price and he is an accomplished enough bowler to have had six perfect 300 games). He also built a thriving food company after turning his father's sweet potato recipe into a line of cookies that Walmart picked up to sell. His amazingly diverse career all falls under one guiding principle Price has: "I find things I love doing, and I work at them."
Price, however, never left the entertainment world totally behind. In the 1990s, he toured Europe
with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little
Richard, and Gary U.S. Bonds. He later produced and starred in 4 Kings
of Rhythm and Blues alongside Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, and Ben E. King. From 1999 into the 2000s, the show played to sold-out houses across the country, including Las Vegas' MGM Grand and New York's fabled Apollo Theater. PBS turned 4 Kings
into a TV special, which remains one of their most popular programs. In 2010, Price made his acting debut in the New Orleans-set HBO series Treme. The following year, he wrote his autobiography, The True King of the Fifties: The Lloyd
Price Story, which he followed with another memoir, sumdumhonky, in 2015.
His monumental music accomplishments have not gone recognized. Price was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Louisiana Music
Hall of Fame in 2010, His hometown of Kenner honored its native son by naming a street Lloyd
Price Avenue, and erecting a statue of him in LaSalle Park. Price also has received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
Being a trailblazer, Price acknowledges with a touch of humor, isn't an easy route to take. "Is it hard to be a pioneer? ... ask me, I know." He is justifiably proud, however, at all that he has achieved — going from a 17-year-old dropout working as a dishwasher to having a song that "changed the way people listened to music and created a new avenue for young people, black and white." Price still loves making music and "seeing the happiness and joy that it brings," and, with This Is Rock and Roll, he certainly delivers more happiness and joy to listeners.