Prince Nedick and the Conks
Prince Nedick was born Washington Rice and for a short period was a child preacher in his hometown of Turkey Creek near Leicester, North Carolina. He picked up his performing career as a young teenager, working as a dancer at the 81 Theater in Atlanta. Rice was gay and flamboyant; he worked the tent shows in drag, a great southern, show biz tradition in itself and an important influence on rock’n’roll – hence the term “tent show queen”. He sang the repertoire of said tradition, many of the same tunes Little Richard would clean up and take to the bank– Tutti Frutti (original lyrics– “Tutti Frutti/Good bootie/if it don’t fit/don’t force it/just grease it/make it easy”), Busy Bootin’ aka Keep A Knockin’, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me, etc.
Atlanta was hopping back in the late ’40s, and Auburn Avenue, the main drag in the black section of town had dozens of clubs – the Poinciana, the Congo, the Zanzibar, and the Peacock, as well as rhythm and blues and jazz shows at the Piedmont Theater and the VFW hall. After a few seasons learning the ropes with the folks in the 81 Club show, Rice ordained himself Prince Nedick (reasons unknown) and got his big break while appearing on a bill at the Auditorium in Atlanta that included Billy Wright, Charles Brown and Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams.
He was known for his flashy style and violent temper. At the height of his fame he went on the lam after assaulting his brother’s wife with an axe and ultimately ended up in Minglewood, a lumber camp/work camp a few miles east of the Mississippi in Dyersburg, TN. It was rumored he died planning an escape.