Price was born and grew up in Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. He had formal training in playing the trumpet and piano, sang in his church's gospel choir, and was a member of a combo in high school. His mother, Beatrice Price, owned the Fish 'n' Fry Restaurant, and Price picked up lifelong interests in business and food from her.
Art Rupe, the owner of Specialty Records, based in Los Angeles, came to New Orleans in 1952 to record the distinctive style of rhythm and blues developing there, which had been highly successful for his competitor Imperial Records. Rupe heard Price's song "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" and wanted to record it. Because Price did not have a band, Rupe hired Dave Bartholomew to create the arrangements and Bartholomew's band (plus Fats Domino on piano) to back Price in the recording session. The song was a massive hit. His next release, "Oooh, Oooh, Oooh", cut at the same session, was a much smaller hit. Price continued making recordings for Speciality, but none of them reached the charts at that time.
In 1954 he was drafted and sent to Korea. When he returned he found he had been replaced by Little Richard. In addition, his former chauffeur, Larry Williams, was also recording for the label, having released "Short Fat Fannie".
Price eventually formed KRC Records with Harold Logan and Bill Boskent. Their first single, "Just Because", was picked up for distribution by ABC Records. From 1957 to 1959 Price recorded a series of national hits for ABC, which were successful adaptations of the New Orleans sound, including "Stagger Lee" (which topped the Pop and R&B charts and sold over a million copies), "Personality" (which reached number 2), and "I'm Gonna Get Married" (number 3). When Price appeared on the television program American Bandstand to sing "Stagger Lee", the producer and host of the program, Dick Clark, insisted that he alter the lyrics to tone down its violent content, but it was still the "violent" version that was on top of the R&B chart in 1959. "Stagger Lee" was Price's version of an old blues standard, recorded many times previously by other artists. Greil Marcus, in a critical analysis of the song's history, wrote that Price's version was an enthusiastic rock rendition, "all momentum, driven by a wailing sax". In all of these early recordings by Price ("Personality", Stagger Lee", "I'm Gonna Get Married", and others) Merritt Mel Dalton was the lead sax player; he was also in the traveling band and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Price. The personnel on the original hit recording of "Stagger Lee" included Clarence Johnson on piano, John Patton on bass, Charles McClendon and Eddie Saunders on tenor sax, Ted Curson on trumpet and Sticks Simpkins on drums.
In 1962, Price formed Double L Records with Logan. Wilson Pickett got his start on this label. In 1969, Logan was murdered. Price then founded a new label, Turntable, and opened a club by the same name in New York City.
During the 1970s Price owned a Manhattan restaurant-nightclub called Turntable and helped the boxing promoter Don King promote fights, including Muhammad Ali's "Rumble in the Jungle". He later became a builder, erecting 42 town houses in the Bronx.
Price toured Europe in 1993 with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Gary U.S. Bonds. He performed with soul legends Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, and Ben E. King on the "Four Kings of Rhythm and Blues" tour in 2005; concerts were recorded for a DVD and a PBS television special.
On March 9, 2010, his 77th birthday, in New Orleans, Price was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. On June 20, 2010, he appeared and sang in the season 1 finale of the HBO series Treme.
Price currently manages Icon Food Brands, which makes a line of primarily Southern-style foods, including Lawdy Miss Clawdy food products, ranging from canned greens to sweet potato cookies, and a line of Lloyd Price foods, such as Lloyd Price's Soulful 'n' Smooth Grits and Lloyd Price's Energy-2-Eat Bar (with the brand slogan "Good taste … Great Personality"), plus Lawdy Miss Clawdy clothing and collectibles.
Lloyd Price Avenue in Kenner, Louisiana, was named for the singer, and the city celebrates an annual Lloyd Price Day.
In 2011 Price was promoting his autobiography, The True King of the Fifties: The Lloyd Price Story, and was working on a Broadway musical, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, with a team that included the producer Phil Ramone. The musical details how rock and roll evolved from the New Orleans music scene of the early 1950s. He continues to sing.
Price lives with his wife in Westchester County, New York.1959: The Exciting Lloyd Price
1959: Mr. Personality
1960: Mr. Personality Sings the Blues
1960: Mr. Personality's Big 15
1961: Cookin' Music-Music
1969: Lloyd Price Now
1981: This Is My Band
1989: Lloyd Price: His Originals, Speciality
1990: Greatest Hits, Pair
1990: Walkin' the Track, Speciality
1990: Personality Plus, Speciality
1992: Stagger Lee, Collectables
1994: Lloyd Price Sings His Big Ten, Curb
1994: Vol. 2: Heavy Dreams, Speciality
1994: Greatest Hits: The Original ABC Paramount, MCA
1995: Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Ace
1998: Body with No Body, Moms
1999: Mr Personality, Sba
1999: The Exciting, Sba
2002: Christmas Classics, Prestige
2002: Millennium Collection, Universal
2004: The Chronological Lloyd Price: 1952–1953, Classics Records
2005: Lawdy!, Fantasy
2006: Speciality Profiles, Speciality
2006: Great, Goldies
2006: 16 Greatest Hits, Passport Audio