Lloyd Price, 'Personality' Singer Behind First Rock 'n' Roll Hit, Dies at 88

Responsible for songs such as "Stagger Lee," "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" and "I'm Gonna Get Married," Price was considered a pioneer of rock 'n' roll

Lloyd Price
Lloyd Price. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Lloyd Price has died.

On May 3, the singer-songwriter, considered to be an early pioneer for rock n roll, died at an extended-care center in New Rochelle, New York, The New York Times reported. He was 88.

Jeffrey Madoff, writer and producer of the stage show Personality: The Lloyd Price Musical, told the Times that the cause of his death was complications of diabetes.

A Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, the singer was best known for his hit "Personality," which reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1959. The hit song earned him the nickname Mr. Personality.

Lloyd Price
David Redfern/Redferns

His career began to skyrocket when he recorded "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" at 19. The song topped the Billboard R&B chart, according to the Times. The likes of Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney would go on to cover the song, which is considered by many as the first rock hit.

"I revolutionized the South. Before 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy,' white kids were not really interested in this music," Price once said, according to Entertainment Weekly. "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."

Price would go on to be drafted and sent to Korea in 1953. By his return two years later, stars such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard were dominating the industry. He'd come back to release songs such as "I'm Gonna Get Married" and "Stagger Lee."

The singer would found his own record labels and held his own publishing rights and served as his own manager and agent, per EW.

He released his last album This Is Rock and Roll in 2017.

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