Fats Domino was a portly piano playing prodigy from who lived in New Orleans his entire life. His Boogie-Woogie style of R&B made him a true pioneer in the development of Rock ‘N’ Roll with songs such as Ain’t That A Shame, Blue Monday and I’m Walkin’. Domino dominated Pop Music and R&B charts from 1949 through the 1960s.,
He lived in New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward. He was often spotted leaving his pink mansion and driving his pink Cadillac around the city. When Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005, and after days of media speculation about whether he had survived, Domino was rescued from his second-floor balcony by a boat. The floodwaters filled his house with mud and debris, washed away his Gold Records, and killed his grand piano. His rescue was the basis for Saving Fats, a tall tale in the late Sam Shepard’s short-story collection Day Out Of Days (2010).
Domino helped break down racial barriers during a career that began in the days of Jim Crow laws that had been designed to keep races apart. He had as many White fans at his concerts as African-Americans. Down Beat Magazine states that Domino’s music was: “doing a job in the Deep South that even the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t been able to accomplish with its groundbreaking 1954 decision outlawing school segregation.”
“As far as I know, the music makes people happy. I know it makes me happy.”
His contribution to the beginning of Rock ‘N’ Roll and his steady stream of big hits was the reason Domino was one of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s first ten inductees.
In 1956 Domino said:
“What they call rock and roll is rhythm and blues, and I’ve been playing it for 15 years in New Orleans.”
He was making Rock ‘n’ Roll music before Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. was born on February 26, 1928. He played his family’s 78 rpm records on a gramophone that he had to wind up with a crank. When the winding string broke, Domino twirled the records with his fingers. The family bought an old upright piano when he was 10-years-old, and Domino taught himself to play songs he had heard on the radio.
As a teenager, he played at backyard parties and small clubs around New Orleans. His first recording, in 1949, was The Fat Man. It is considered the first Rock ‘N’ Roll record, and it sold a million copies.
In 1955, Pat Boone had a huge hit with a milder version of Domino’s Ain’t That A Shame that was reworked for white listeners. Ricky Nelson recorded I’m Walkin’ two years later. Nelson, unlike Boone, acknowledged the man who first made the song famous and Nelson and Domino sang it together at a 1985 concert.
Blueberry Hill was Domino’s biggest hit, selling more than 5 million records. Blueberry Hill wasn’t new. Cowboy star Gene Autry introduced the song, and Louis Armstrong was among the many other artists who had recorded it. But Domino put his distinctive imprint on that song and everything else he played; it became his signature tune.
Domino had 37 Top 40 singles. Only Elvis sold more records during the 1950s. In 1957, he played 355 live shows around the USA.
The Beatles named Domino as a major influence. John Lennon said Ain’t That A Shame was the first song he learned. Paul McCartney says that Domino was the inspiration for the style of Lady Madonna. How sweet that Domino’s 1968 cover of that song was his last Top 100 record.
He appeared for 10 months a year in Las Vegas in the mid-1960s, but Domino’s sort of sound stopped being popular by the late 1960s and he gave up recording in the early 1970s, yet he kept playing concerts until 2007.
He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 and the National Medal Of Arts in 1998. Rolling Stone Magazine ranks him Number 25 in its list of the 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time.
His songs have been covered by Elton John, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Bonnie Raitt and Irma Thomas, among many others.
Fats Domino left this world early this morning, taken by natural causes at 89-years-old.