Soul Legend Lloyd Price, "Mr. Personality," Dead at 88

Lloyd Price in 2011
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Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Lloyd Price, a crossover legend of rock and soul who topped the charts with "Stagger Lee" in 1958, died May 3, it was reported this weekend. He was 88 years old.

The Associated Press confirmed Price's cause of death as complications from diabetes.

Born outside of New Orleans, Price was an early act on Art Rupe's Specialty Records. Several of his early recordings there made the Top 10 of the R&B charts, including Price's own chart-topping composition "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" (later recorded by Elvis Presley). But after a stint in the Army during the Korean War, Price found he had been dropped in favor of another crossover act, Little Richard.

Signing to ABC Records, Price finally found mainstream success adapting the soul sound of New Orleans to a more mainstream audience. In 1958, he adapted the folk blues standard "Stack O' Lee's Blues," about the criminal Lee Shelton; while he wasn't the first to do so, his "Stagger Lee" was the most popular of them all, topping Billboard's pop and R&B charts for a month in 1959. He followed that up with the jaunty "Personality," a No. 2 pop smash that earned him his nickname "Mr. Personality," and the No. 3 pop hit "I'm Gonna Get Married."

While Price never matched that chart success again, he continued to record for several decades, while also building a career as an entrepreneur. His business ventures included boxing promotion (including the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire), several record labels, affordable housing projects and even a line of grocery items. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline.

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