Lloyd Price Honored at Riant Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame music legend Lloyd Price, who is developing a Broadway bio show, was honored with the Pioneer of the Arts Awards at the Riant Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival 25th Season Launch Party on February 9 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
"Lloyd Price is a pioneer," said Van Dirk Fisher, founder of the Riant Theatre and artistic director Strawberry One-Act Festival. "This is a man who didn't know any limitations. He has a tremendous gift."
When Price recorded the rock and roll, R&B classic "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" in 1952, the 19 year old from Louisiana thrilled black and white teens. "It caused a youth movement and a rock and roll revolution," explained Price. Kids had never rose up against anything or disobeyed their parents. They began to see things differently. "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" came six years after World War II and parenting as different. Kids had a little more freedom."
After serving in Korea, his record label replaced him with Price's discovery Little Richard. Then, Price's classic "Stagger Lee" topped the pop and R&B charts and sold over one million copies. By 1962, he owned Double L Records recording The Coasters and Wilson Pickett. In 1969, after his business partner and friend Harold Logan was murdered in their club, one of Downtown Manhattan's first African American-owned nightclubs, he moved to Nigeria.
While in Africa, he tapped his friend Don King, who Price had introduced years earlier to Muhmmad Ali. Together with King, he produced the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in Zaire between Ali and Joe Frazier. "The whole deal was my production. They got the biggest purse ever, which was $5 million," said Price. "We changed the entire concept of how sports and entertainers get paid for their work."
By the 1980s, Price took a $6 million bank loan and constructed over 40 low-income homes in the Bronx and Staten Island. Today, at age 80, he is not only singing "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" onstage, he manages Icon Food Brands, which includes Lawdy Miss Clawdy products.
Price is known as "Mr. Personality," in recognition of his classic song "Personality." He has used that personality to create a cache of careers. "Everything I do, I've never done before," he said.
"Lloyd Price has such a layered story," said B. Jeffrey Madoff, founder of Madoff Productions, who directed a film on Price and is now developing a Broadway bio on Price that's a drama with music. "Lloyd is the messenger. The play is about how music and rock and roll brings about integration in the United States."
Madoff, who was also honored by Riant Theatre, directs award winning commercials, documentaries and web content viewed worldwide. High profile fashion and education clients include Ralph Lauren, Victoria's Secret, Godiva Chocolates, Weill Cornell Medical College and Harvard University.
Other Pioneer of the Arts Awards were presented to Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey, Broadway's leading African American producers who created acclaimed star-studded productions like "Romeo and Juliet" with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad; "The Trip To Bountiful" with Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr.; "A Street Car Named Desire" with Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" with Phylicia Rashad, James Earl Jones, Terrence Howard and Anika Noni Rose. Movie producer Debra Martin Chase ("Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and "The Princess Diaries") was a presenter.
Strawberry One-Act Festival has 25 plays performing from February 13 - 23 at the Theatre at St. Clement's at 423 West 46th Street. The Strawberry One-Act Festival tickets are $22 online and $25 at the box office. The awards ceremony tickets are $27 online and $30 at the box office. For more information www.therianttheatre.com, email RiantTheatre@gmail.com or call 646-623-3488.
Photo by Seituo Oronde