Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fats Domino Passes Away

Fats Domino was a founding father of rock-n-roll. He passed away at 89. My brother always joked that a lot of the classic rock-n-roll and R&B songs out of New Orleans all sounded the same. I would counter that it was distinctive. Although the music may have seemed simple, when you listen to later rock bands (often unsuccessfully) attempt to cover songs Domino wrote or performed, it became apparent that there was more going on rhythmically than one might have initially assumed. Fats Domino stood at the interstices of a lot of popular music.

Without Fats Domino rock-n-roll would have been much impoverished. Reggae and Calypso would be very different indeed. Listen to "Be My Guest" for a example of proto-reggae/ska. His music swung. It is immediately recognizable. And I really love the clear crisp production with deep bass and upfront vocals. Even his sad songs were somehow still optimistic. A joy runs through all of his music. Fats Domino was apparently something of an introvert. And even on stage he preferred to let the music do the talking. Domino very rarely displayed the wild performance styles of fellow rock-n-roll pianists like Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis. And since the piano isn't a portable instrument like the guitar, Domino rarely deigned to swivel his hips and drive the ladies wild like Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, or Chuck Berry. Nonetheless Fats Domino, as much as anyone else and more than most, could claim to be a King of Rock-n-Roll.

Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm-and-blues singer whose two-fisted boogie-woogie piano and nonchalant vocals, heard on dozens of hits, made him one of the biggest stars of the early rock ’n’ roll era, has died in Louisiana. He was 89. His death was confirmed by his brother-in-law and former road manager Reggie Hall, who said he had no other details. Mr. Domino lived in Harvey, La., across the Mississippi River from New Orleans.

Mr. Domino had more than three dozen Top 40 pop hits through the 1950s and early ’60s, among them “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t It a Shame” (also known as “Ain’t That a Shame,” which is the actual lyric), “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.” Throughout he displayed both the buoyant spirit of New Orleans, his hometown, and a droll resilience that reached listeners worldwide.
He sold 65 million singles in those years, with 23 gold records, making him second only to Elvis Presley as a commercial force. Presley acknowledged Mr. Domino as a predecessor. “A lot of people seem to think I started this business,” Presley told Jet magazine in 1957. “But rock ’n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that music like colored people. Let’s face it: I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that.”

Rotund and standing 5 feet 5 inches — he would joke that he was as wide as he was tall — Mr. Domino had a big, infectious grin, a fondness for ornate, jewel-encrusted rings and an easygoing manner in performance; even in plaintive songs his voice had a smile in it. And he was a master of the wordless vocal, making hits out of songs full of “woo-woos” and “la-las.”

The son of a violin player, Antoine Domino Jr. was born on Feb. 26, 1928, to a family that grew to include nine children. As a youth, he taught himself popular piano styles — ragtime, blues and boogie-woogie. Fats Waller and Albert Ammons were early influences. Antoine and Rosemary Domino raised eight children in the same ramshackle neighborhood where he grew up, but they did it in style — in a white mansion, trimmed in pink, yellow and lavender. In 1988, all of New Orleans seemed to be talking about him after he reportedly paid cash for two Cadillacs and a $130,000 Rolls-Royce. When the salesman asked if he wanted to call his bank about financing, Domino smiled and said, “I am the bank.”


I'm In Love Again   I'm Walking  Blue Monday  I Want to Walk You Home

Blueberry Hill Ain't That a Shame Be My Guest  My Blue Heaven

Let the Four Winds Blow  I Hear You Knocking Jambalaya It Keeps Raining

I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday  My Girl Josephine  The Fat Man 
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