Lawdy Miss Clawdy

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"Lawdy Miss Clawdy"
Specialty price.jpg
Single by Lloyd Price
B-side "Mailman Blues"
ReleasedApril 1952 (1952-04)
Format 10-inch 78 rpm & 7-inch 45 rpm records
RecordedMarch 13, 1952
Studio J&M Recording Studio, New Orleans, Louisiana
Label Specialty
Songwriter(s) Lloyd Price
Producer(s) Dave Bartholomew
Lloyd Price singles chronology
"Lawdy Miss Clawdy"
"Oooh, Oooh, Oooh"

"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" is a rhythm and blues song by New Orleans singer/songwriter Lloyd Price that "grandly introduced The New Orleans Sound ". [1] It was first recorded by Price in 1952 with Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew during his first session for Art Rupe and Specialty Records. The song became one of the biggest selling R&B records of 1952 and crossed over to other audiences. "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" inspired many songs and has been recorded by a variety of artists.

Rhythm and blues, commonly abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular. In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and sometimes background vocalists. R&B lyrical themes often encapsulate the African-American experience of pain and the quest for freedom and joy, as well as triumphs and failures in terms of relationships, economics, and aspirations.

Lloyd Price American rhythm and blues singer

Lloyd Price is an American R&B vocalist, known as "Mr. Personality", after his 1959 million-selling hit, "Personality". His first recording, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", was a hit for Specialty Records in 1952. He continued to release records, but none were as popular until several years later, when he refined the New Orleans beat and achieved a series of national hits. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He is also the first solo act who is still alive to earn a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single with "Stagger Lee".

New Orleans rhythm and blues Style of R&B music originating in New Orleans

New Orleans rhythm and blues is a style of rhythm and blues music that originated in the U.S. city of New Orleans. Most popular from 1948 to 1955, it was a direct precursor to rock and roll and strongly influenced ska. Instrumentation typically includes drums, bass, piano, horns, electric guitar, and vocals. The style is characterized by syncopated "second line" rhythms, a strong backbeat, and soulful vocals. Artists such as Roy Brown, Dave Bartholomew, and Fats Domino are representative of the New Orleans R&B sound.



While still in high school, Lloyd Price was working for New Orleans radio station WBOK. [2] He provided jingles (music for radio advertisements) for various products, including those hawked by disc jockey James "Okey Dokey" Smith. One of Smith's catch phrases was "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", [3] which he used in ad slogans such as "Lawdy Miss Clawdy, eat Mother's Homemade Pies and drink Maxwell House coffee!" [4] Price's accompanying tune proved popular with the radio audience and he developed it into a full-length song. [2]

Disc jockey Person who plays recorded music for an audience

A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays existing recorded music for a live audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJ, club DJ who performs at a nightclub or music festival and turntablist who uses record players, usually turntables, to manipulate sounds on phonograph records. Originally, the disc in disc jockey referred to gramophone records, but now DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to describe someone who mixes recorded music from any source, including cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ or laptop. The title 'DJ' is commonly used by DJs in front of their real names or adopted pseudonyms or stage names. In recent years it has become common for DJs to be featured as the credited artist on tracks they produced despite having a guest vocalist that performs the entire song: like for example Uptown Funk.

In 1952, Art Rupe, founder of Specialty Records in Los Angeles, came to New Orleans in search of new talent. [5] Local recording studio owner Cosimo Matassa introduced him to Dave Bartholomew, who co-wrote and produced many of Fats Domino's early hit records. [1] Bartholomew invited nineteen-year-old Lloyd Price to audition for Rupe at Matassa's J&M Studio.

Arthur N. "Art" Rupe is an American music industry executive and record producer. He started Specialty Records, noted for its rhythm and blues, blues, gospel and early rock and roll music recordings, in Los Angeles in 1946.

Cosimo Matassa American recording engineer and studio owner

Cosimo Vincent Matassa was an American recording engineer and studio owner, responsible for many R&B and early rock and roll recordings.

The accounts differ on what happened next. [6] According to Rupe, Price spent too much time rehearsing and Rupe threatened to leave if he did not get it together; Rupe then relented and Price turned out an emotional performance of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", prompting Rupe to cancel his return flight and arrange for a recording session. [5] Price remembered that he auditioned the song for Rupe and although he apparently liked it, he left for New York without arranging to record it; however, two months later Price recalled receiving a call "Art Rupe's back in town and he wants to record you". [7]

Recording and composition

"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" was recorded March 13, 1952 at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios in New Orleans. [4] Producer Dave Bartholomew used his backing band for the session, which consisted of pianist Salvador Doucette, guitarist Ernest McClean, bassist Frank Fields, drummer Earl Palmer, and saxophonists Herbert Hardesty (tenor) and Joe Harris (alto). [1] The first attempts at performing the song were not successful, reportedly because Bartholomew was dissatisfied with Doucette's piano part. [1] When Fats Domino arrived at the studio, he was persuaded by Bartholomew to sit in on the recording. [1] After one run through, Bartholomew announced "OK, that's it" and Matassa started the tape recorder. [1]

Earl Palmer American drummer

Earl Cyril Palmer was an American rock and roll and rhythm-and-blues drummer. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Herbert Hardesty was an American musician who played tenor saxophone and trumpet. He is best known for his association with the New Orleans pianist Fats Domino and the producer Dave Bartholomew, beginning in 1948. He released six 45-rpm records as Herb Hardesty between 1959 and 1962. His first CD of these recordings, together with others made but not issued in 1958, were released worldwide in July 2012 by Ace Records as The Domino Effect.

"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" opens with Fats Domino's "rolling trills ... in a cascading, horn-like procession". [1] Although Domino had recorded several songs using his trade-mark piano triplets style, [8] Price's hit provided it with its greatest exposure up to that time. [1] Domino repeats his intro for the piano solo. [1] Another key element of the song is Earl Palmer's drumming, described as "loping, midtempo shuffle beats with their busy ride cymbal". [6] This is anchored by Palmer's emphasis on the snare of the second and fourth beats of each bar, which led him to be referred to as "the father of the backbeat". [1] In characteristic New Orleans-style, the rest of the backing instrumentation also contributes to the song's rhythmic drive by "providing different elements of rhythm, in several different patterns ... This complex, layered beat might also be compared to African polyrhythms". [1]

"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" follows an eight-bar blues progression and has been notated in 12/8 time in the key of A. [9] The song's melody is derived from Fats Domino's 1950 hit "The Fat Man", [10] which he explained "came from an ol' blues tune called "Junkers Blues". [11] Price's song also features most of the same backing musicians as Domino's song. [12]

Price's vocals have been described as "heartbroken wails", [6] "expressive, wailing", [5] and "gritty". [7] His lyrics deal with teenage angst over a relationship. A previous take of the song opens: [7]

Oh now lawdy lawdy lawdy Miss Clawdy, girl who can your lover be
Well please don't excite me baby, no it can't be me

On the take that was released, Price confusingly uses a line from a later verse, "girl you sho' look good to me", but it stuck. [7]

Releases and charts

Specialty Records released "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" in April 1952 and on May 17, 1952 it entered Billboard's R&B chart, staying there a total of 26 weeks. [13] The song reached number one, where it spent seven weeks. [13] According to Art Rupe, the single sold nearly one million copies and record distributors reported that it was selling well outside of the usual R&B market, [5] but it did not appear in Billboard's pop charts. [13] "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" was also one of the top records for 1952 and the 1950s decade. [14]

Recognition and influence

"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" became "R&B Record of the Year" for 1952 in both Billboard and Cashbox magazines; it also earned Price Cashbox's "Best New R&B Singer of 1952" designation. [5] In 1995, it was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". [15] Authors Dawson and Propes discussed "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" among the first rock and roll songs. [7]

"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" "set the pattern for the rock and roll years in New Orleans" [6] and its success led many to try to emulate it; one author suggests "for a time, every new R&B song coming out of New Orleans sounded suspiciously like "Lawdy Miss Clawdy". [7] In 1953, singer Tommy Ridgley, a friend of Price's who nearly recorded "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" first, recorded a follow-up tune "Oh, Lawdy, My Baby". [7] In 1958, Larry Williams, who had been Lloyd Price's valet, reworked the song to become "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". [2]

Price's song has also been identified as "one of the first rhythm and blues records to attract the attention of white Southern teenagers, among them Elvis Presley, who cut his own version four years later" [16] and "becom[ing] a repertoire staple of local country bands". [7] A variety of artists have recorded "Lawdy Miss Clawdy". [17]

Related Research Articles

Fats Domino American R&B musician

Antoine "Fats" Domino Jr. was an American pianist and singer-songwriter. One of the pioneers of rock and roll music, Domino sold more than 65 million records. Between 1955 and 1960, he had eleven Top 10 hits. His humility and shyness may be one reason his contribution to the genre has been overlooked.

Willie Hall, best known by his nickname Drive 'Em Down, was a New Orleans blues and boogie woogie piano player. He never recorded, but has had a great influence on blues and rock and roll.

Dave Bartholomew American musician, band leader, producer, and composer

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The Things That I Used to Do Blues standard written by Guitar Slim

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Junker Blues

Junker Blues is a piano blues song first recorded in 1940 by Champion Jack Dupree. It formed the basis of several later songs including the 1949 "The Fat Man" by Fats Domino and the 1952 "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" by Lloyd Price. The song is about a drug user's conflict with life and the law, makes references to cocaine, "needles", "reefers", and life in the penitentiary, and contains admonishments against the use of hard drugs.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Coleman, Rick (2006). Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n' Roll. Da Capo Press. pp. 72–74. ISBN   978-0-306-81491-4.
  2. 1 2 3 Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Billboard Books. p. 49. ISBN   978-0-8230-7677-2.
  3. Dawson, Propes 1992, p. 110. "Lawdy" phonetically approximates the pronunciation of "Lordy" in New Orleans patois.
  4. 1 2 Dahl, Bill. "Lawdy Miss Clawdy – Song Review". AllMusic . Retrieved October 6, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Broven, John (1978). Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans. Pelican Publishing. pp. 37–38. ISBN   978-0-88289-433-1.
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  8. According to Producer Bartholomew, "That triplet piano came from a guy out of California—Little Willie Littlefield". Hannush, Block 1991, p. 18.
  9. Ripani, Richard J. (2006). The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950–1999. University Press of Mississippi. p. 67. ISBN   978-1-57806-862-3.
  10. Birnbaum, Larry (2012). Before Elvis: The Prehistory of Rock 'n' Roll. Lanham, Massachusetts: Scarecrow Press. p. 329. ISBN   978-0-8108-8629-2.
  11. Hannusch, Jeff; Block, Adam (1991). "They Call Me the Fat Man ..." Antoine "Fats" Domino The Legendary Imperial (Album notes). Fats Domino. Imperial Records/Capitol EMI Records. p. 17. E2-7-96784-2.
  12. Dawson, Propes 1992, p. 63
  13. 1 2 3 Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 335. ISBN   0-89820-068-7.
  14. Whitburn 1988, pp. 587, 598.
  15. "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Exhibit Highlights. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1995. Archived from the original on May 2, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2013.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  16. Hildebrand, Lee (1991). Superblues – All Time Classic Blues Hits, Vol. 2 (Album notes). Various artists. Stax Records. p. 1. SCD–8559–2.
  17. "Lloyd Price: Lawdy Miss Clawdy – Also Performed By". AllMusic . Retrieved September 5, 2019.