Singer-songwriter Lloyd Worth, an early rock ’n roll star and enduring maverick whose hits included such up-tempo favorites as Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Character and the semi-forbidden Stagger Lee, has died. He was 88.
Worth died Monday at a long-term care facility in New Rochelle, New York, of issues from diabetes, his spouse, Jacqueline Worth, instructed The Related Press on Saturday.
Lloyd Worth, inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame in 1998, was among the many final survivors of a post-World Conflict II scene in New Orleans that anticipated the shifts in common music and tradition resulting in the rise of rock within the mid-Nineteen Fifties. Together with Fat Domino and David Bartholomew amongst others, Worth long-established a deep, exuberant sound across the brass and swing of New Orleans jazz and blues that positioned excessive on R&B charts and finally crossed over to white audiences.
“Crucial a part of Rock historical past. He was BEFORE Little Richard!” rock singer and E Avenue Band member Steven Van Zandt stated Saturday on Twitter. “Lawdy Miss Clawdy of 1952 has a legit declare as the primary Rock hit…. Righteous cat. Monumental expertise.”
Worth’s nickname was Mr Character, becoming for a performer with a heat smile and a tenor voice to match. However he was excess of an enticing entertainer. He was unusually unbiased for his time, operating his personal report label even earlier than such stars as Frank Sinatra did the identical, holding on to his publishing rights, and serving as his personal agent and supervisor. He would typically converse of the racial injustices he endured, calling his memoir “sumdumhonkey” and writing on his Fb web page through the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests that behind his “affable exterior” was “a person who’s seething.”
Born in Kenner, Louisiana, certainly one of 11 siblings, Worth had been singing in church and taking part in piano since childhood. He was in his late teenagers when a neighborhood DJ’s favourite catchphrase, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” helped encourage him to write down his boundary-breaking first hit, which he labored on in his mom’s fried fish restaurant.
That includes Domino’s trademark piano trills, Lawdy Miss Clawdy hit No. 1 on the R&B charts in 1952, bought greater than 1 million copies and have become a rock commonplace, coated by Elvis Presley and Little Richard amongst others. However Worth would have combined emotions in regards to the music’s broad enchantment, later remembering how native officers within the Jim Crow South resisted letting each blacks and whites attend his exhibits.
Worth was drafted and spent the mid-Nineteen Fifties in army service in Korea. He started a profession restart with the 1957 ballad Simply As a result of, and hit the highest with the brassy, pop-oriented Stagger Lee, one of many catchiest, most celebratory songs ever recorded a couple of barroom homicide.
Written by Worth, Stagger Lee was primarily based on a nineteenth century combat between two Black males — Lee Shelton, typically often called Stag Lee, and Billy Lyons — that ended with Shelton capturing and killing his rival. Their ever-changing legend was showing in songs by the Twenties, and has impressed artists starting from Woody Guthrie and Duke Ellington to Bob Dylan and the Conflict.
Worth’s model opened with just a few spoken phrases that had the understated rigidity of a criminal offense novel: “The evening was clear, the moon was yellow, and the leaves got here tumbling … down.” The band jumps in and Worth shouts out the story of Stagger Lee and Billy preventing over a sport of cube, concluding with a bullet from Stagger Lee’s 44 passing by Billy and breaking the bartender’s glass. “Go Stagger Lee!” a refrain chants all through.
The music reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart early in 1959, however not everybody was entertained. American Bandstand host Dick Clark nervous the music was too violent for his teen-centered present and pressed Worth to revise it: For Bandstand watchers and a few future listeners, Stagger Lee and Billy peacefully resolve their dispute.
“I needed to go make up some lyrics about Stagger Lee and Billy being in some sort of squabble a couple of lady,” Worth instructed Billboard in 2013. “It didn’t make any sense in any respect. It was ridiculous.”
His profession in music continued, sporadically. He and his enterprise accomplice Harold Logan began a label within the early Sixties, Double L Data, that gave an early break to Wilson Pickett, and so they additionally ran a New York nightclub. However after Logan was murdered, in 1969, Worth turned so disheartened he finally moved to Nigeria and didn’t return till the Eighties. He would develop into a favourite on oldies excursions, performing with Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis amongst others.
He settled in New York along with his spouse, however was not forgotten again house. A avenue in Kenner was renamed Lloyd Worth Avenue and for years Kenner has celebrated an annual Lloyd Worth Day.
Worth would credit score clear residing and regular focus for his endurance.
“I by no means drank, smoked, used medication or had dangerous habits,” he instructed interviewer Larry Katz in 1998. “I’d drive a taxi cab to get me the meals I must reside. I by no means was starstruck. I had 23 hit information and I by no means seemed for the following report to hit. I by no means had that want that they needed to be any person. I simply wished to be.”