Rock ‘N’ Roll Pioneer, Legendary Fats Domino Dies at 89

by Kim Boateng Posted on October 25th, 2017

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA: Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. better known as Fats Domino who dominated pop and R&B charts from 1949 until the early 1960s has died at 89 years old. His daughter Karen Domino-White said he died peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Antoine ‘Fats’ Domino was an American pianist and singer-songwriter of French Creole descent who inspired countless artists including Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

Fats Domino was a pioneer in the development of rock ‘n’ roll with songs such as “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Blue Monday” and “I’m Walkin”

Mr. Domino’s style was credited as paving the way for rock ‘n’ roll in the mid-1950s. In acknowledgment of this contribution and his steady stream of hits, Mr. Domino was one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first 10 inductees. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Domino received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.

Domino sold more than 65 million albums and produced over 25 gold singles in a career spanning five decades.

Mr. Domino’s first recording, in 1949, was “The Fat Man,” featuring his “wah-wah” vocals over a strong backbeat. Widely regarded as the first rock ‘n’ roll record, it sold 1 million copies by 1953, according to Paul Friedlander’s “Rock and Roll: A Social History.

In addition to entertaining people, Mr. Domino inadvertently helped break down racial barriers during a career that began in the waning days of Jim Crow laws that had been designed to keep races apart. The trade newspaper Variety reported that white fans at Mr. Domino’s concerts outnumbered African-Americans by three to one.

The impact was seismic, Robert Christgau wrote in 2015 in The Village Voice.

While Mr. Domino’s “bouncy boogie-woogie piano and easy Creole gait were generically 9th Ward, New Orleans, they defined a pop-friendly second-line beat that nobody knew was there before ‘The Fat Man,'” Christgau wrote. “In short, this shy, deferential, uncharismatic man invented New Orleans rock and roll.”

“The Fat Man” was the first of a string of hits that Mr. Domino recorded in Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio at North Rampart and Dumaine streets with Bartholomew’s band.

Mr. Domino and Bartholomew were responsible for turning out more than 40 hits for Imperial, including “I’m Walkin’,” “Whole Lotta Loving,” “I Want to Walk You Home,” “Valley of Tears” and “Ain’t That a Shame.”

Among other Domino successes during this period were “I’m in Love Again”; “Walking to New Orleans”; “Blue Monday,” and “Blueberry Hill,” which was Mr. Domino’s biggest hit, selling more than 5 million copies. Five of his singles released before 1955 sold over a million copies and were certified as gold records.

Eventually, Mr. Domino had 37 Top 40 singles. Steve Allen, on his television show, gave Mr. Domino a plaque recognizing him as the most-played R&B artist of 1956

He was deeply embedded in New Orleans, and did a lot of public appearances for relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

His wife, Rosemary Domino, died in 2008. Survivors, all of whom live in the New Orleans area, include two sons, Anatole and Antonio Domino; three daughters, Antoinette Smith, Anola Hartzog, Adonica Domino and Andrea Brimmer; numerous grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

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