“Before Elvis, Jerry Lee and Chuck Berry, there was Fats.” That’s what Greg Harris, Rock Hall President and CEO, said of Fats Domino, born Antoine Domino Jr. “His sweet voice, rolling boogie-woogie piano, and delightful charisma made him a top-selling artist, a worldwide rock star and an inaugural member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
I think the Pitchfork headline is true: “A Rock’n’Roll Pioneer Too Often Overlooked.” He didn’t run hot, like Little Richard or the artists Harris mentioned. Fats was cool, in control.
“Fats Domino may not have been the most flamboyant rock and roller of the Fifties, but he was certainly the figure most rooted in the worlds of blues, rhythm & blues and the various strains of jazz that gave rise to rock and roll.”
Commercially, he outsold all of his contemporaries except Elvis. The Guardian noted that he “shaped the course of popular music over and over again.” In fact, “You could argue for the rest of your life about what constitutes the first rock’n’roll record… But Fats Domino’s 1949 single The Fat Man has a stronger claim than most.
The first time I ever heard Lady Madonna, I was not 100% sure it was by the Beatles. Indeed, Paul McCartney made it clear that he was trying to do Fats Domino. And Fats covered the song, which I have on some compilation album of black artists performing tracks by the Beatles. “Ain’t That a Shame was the first song John Lennon learned to play.”
Some declared Fats Domino dead during Katrina. He lived to laugh about it. “His grand piano was destroyed. Many of his two dozen gold records were carried away by floodwaters, NOLA.com reported. But he was okay.”
Listen to Fats Domino (piano, vocals; born February 26, 1928, died October 25, 2017):
Blueberry Hill on Austin City Limits