Once declared an inspiration by Elvis Presley, Fats Domino’s impression on Rock N’ Roll music is unmistakable. Bursting on to the scene from his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, Domino didn’t just play Rock N’ Roll, he was born with a thick layer of rhythm and blues pumping through his soul. Pounding the keys came natural to the ten year old kid whose parents had to move their hammy down instrument into the garage to escape the continuous beats and bops.
Domino’s obsession with the piano continued steadily into his teenage years. Dropping out of high school at age fourteen, Domino picked up odd jobs as a way to supplement playing his passion. Domino then began playing local bands and inevitably picked up his infamous nickname “Fats,” partly in homage to piano predecessors like Fats Waller and partly due to his size and the presence his massive sound brought to the stage.
Domino received his first record deal in 1949 with Imperial Records after a performance with his Jazz band leader Dave Bartholomew. Bartholomew and Domino collaborated and wrote, “The Fat Man” which became an instant New Orleans hit and is argued to be one of the earliest Rock N’ Roll records. The duo reunited in 1955 to write, “Ain’t That a Shame” which sealed Domino’s rise to the Rock N’ Roll top.
Domino achieved more than three dozen Top 40 hits throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. He sold 65 million singles in those years and with 23 gold records he is marked a second only to Elvis Presley as a commercial force. Presley even told Jet Magazine in 1957 that, “Rock N’ Roll was here long before I came along…I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that.”
Beyond the massive hits and world acclaim, Domino is remembered for his easy going demeanor, down to earth personality, and infectious positive attitude. Domino was even said to have packed a hot plate with packages of rice and beans so that he could cook his favorite Louisianan meals while touring and staying in hotels. He stayed married to the same woman for over 60 years and once told reporters during a time when Rock N’ Roll was viewed as far too wild, “I never would use dirty lyrics. And I don’t use body movements either. I just play the piano, or I sing and clap my hands.”
Rock N’ Rolls lovable teddy bear, Fats Domino is one of the earliest contributors to Rock N’ Roll music and will go down remembered as an essential piece to the music genres entire existence.
Browne, David. “Fats Domino, Rock and Roll Pioneer, Dead at 89.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 25 Oct. 2017, http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/fats-domino-rock-and-roll-pioneer-dead-at-89-w473594.
Browne, David. “Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Others Remember Fats Domino.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 28 Oct. 2017, http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/little-richard-jerry-lee-lewis-remember-fats-domino-w510393.
“Fats Domino.” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, http://www.rockhall.com/inductees/fats-domino.
Grimes, Jon Pareles And William. “Fats Domino, Early Rock ’n’ Roller With a Boogie-Woogie Piano, Is Dead at 89.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Oct. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/25/obituaries/fats-domino-89-one-of-rock-n-rolls-first-stars-is-dead.html.