Who was/is Fats Domino ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Fats Domino Obituary
Even at the height of the mid-‘50s rock and roll explosion, when Elvis and Chuck Berry were scaring the bejeezus out of parents with their primal rhythms and suggestive stage antics, Fats was a cherubic presence when seated behind a piano with a sweet smile on his face and a fat horn section by his side. No wonder he was one of the era’s most prolific and universally accepted hitmakers; with trumpeter/bandleader Dave Bartholomew as his co-writer and producer, Domino unleashed an incredible run of hits on Imperial Records that were irresistible to teenagers and their parents alike. Fats always did the Crescent City proud.
Domino, who died at the age of 89 in his beloved home in Harvey, Jefferson Parrish in New Orleans, Louisiana, at night on the 24th of October 2017, had been ailing in recent years after surviving the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (he had to be rescued from his Ninth Ward home, which was utterly devastated). But prior to his hea
lth woes, Fats never stopped rocking like it was 1957 all over again, always fronting a rollicking band soaked in second-line rhythms and jabbing horns. Domino never seemed like he was just going through the motions; whenever he launched into his raucous set closer When The Saints Go Marching In, it was instant Mardi Gras time.
Born February 26, 1928 in the Big Easy, Antoine Domino, Jr. was a shy lad of Creole descent who spoke French before he learned English. Influenced by boogie piano specialists Albert Ammons (whose Swanee River Boogie became one of Domino’s enduring showpieces), Meade Lux Lewis, and Amos Milburn, Fats was given his nickname by bassist Billy Diamond, whose band he played with at the Hideaway Club beginning in 1946. Domino was making a name in his own right by ’49, when he met Bartholomew, who brought Imperial owner Lew Chudd to the Hideaway to check out the promising newcomer. The end result was a record contract that would make immense profits for the label and Domino as it stretched for more than a decade.
The Fat Man, a cleaned-up adaptation of Champion Jack Dupree’s Junker Blues, was Domino’s Imperial debut and just missed the top of the R&B hit parade in early 1950. Fats achieved R&B stardom long before rock and roll reared its impudent head, scoring major hits with Every Night About This Time (1950), Goin’ Home, Going To The River (both 1952), and Please Don’t Leave Me and Something’s Wrong (both 1953). Everything changed when Domino released the stop-time rocker Ain’t It A Shame in 1955.
Typically a Domino/Bartholomew collaboration, it not only paced the R&B charts but went Top Ten pop despite a Pat Boone cover. Rock and roll was exploding all over, and Fats was one of the rowdy music’s first true heroes. Of course, having a crack band at his behest whenever he ventured into Cosimo Matassa’s studio in the French Quarter sure didn’t hurt. Herbert Hardesty, who was prominently featured with Domino’s band for decades, took the lion’s share of the sax solos on Domino’s hits, with studio stalwart Lee Allen handling the rest.
Domino was a rock and roll superstar
For the rest of the decade, Domino was a rock and roll superstar, thanks to blockbusters that included I’m In Love Again, When My Dreamboat Comes Home, Blueberry Hill (his top seller of all), and Blue Monday in 1956, I’m Walkin’ the next year, Whole Lotta Loving in ’58, I’m Ready, I Want To Walk You Home, and Be My Guest in ’59, and the plaintive Walking To New Orleans and My Girl Josephine at the beginning of the new decade. Domino memorably guested in the rock and roll flicks ‘The Girl Can’t Help It,’ ‘Jamboree,’ and ‘The Big Beat,’ headlined countless package shows that barnstormed the U.S. and helped knock down segregation barriers, starred on network TV programs, and remained singularly free of scandal as he loyally doted on his huge family back home when he wasn’t on the road.
After an amazing run on Imperial (all of his masters for the label are available on Bear Family’s eight-CD boxed set ‘Out of New Orleans’), Domino moved over to the ABC-Paramount label in 1963. But by then, the glory years of New Orleans rock and roll were long in the history books. Domino made more platters for Mercury and Reprise, often recording away from his home base, and toured far and wide as the oldies circuit welcomed him with open arms. Eventually Domino decided to retire from the road altogether, limiting his performances to venues that were close to home.
New Orleans was filled with great performers during the ‘50s, but there was only one Fat Man. Monumentally influential to a generation or two of Louisiana musicians (especially the pioneers of the swamp pop movement), he was the very definition of New Orleans rock and roll—as all the gold records adorning his wall during the pre-Katrina days so eloquently attested.
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