Rock and Roll legend, Fats Domino, was born Antoine Domino in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana in 1928. As a child, Domino's first spoken language was French. Aside from being bilingual, Antoine also played the piano and sang as a child. He was only ten years of age when he first performed in public. Domino's first influences came from Fats Waller and Albert Ammons.
The 1940's brought about Domino's first business with a record company. Dave Bartholomew, who was associated with Imperial Records, heard Antoine play. Bartholomew then asked him to join the Dave Bartholomew Band, which he did in the mid 1940's. Bartholomew played a definitive part in the developing of Domino's music because he became Antoine's writing partner for many hits. Resulting from his association with Bartholomew, Domino signed on with Imperial in 1949.
Antoine Domino's first recording session included his rendition of the traditional Louisiana "Hey La Bas", which was about a voodoo god of luck. In February of 1950, "The Fat Man" was the first record to be released by Domino. This number, which was an older song originally titled "Junker's Blues", was purged of its allusions to drugs and it made it to the Rhythm and Blues charts.
The title also gave Domino his nickname "Fats", which he kept throughout his career. "The Fat Man" single sold more than a million copies. Another piece that reached the R&B charts around the same time was "Every Night About This Time". This song employed a piano triplet learned from Little Willie Littleford that Fats would become famous for using in his own style.
Rock and Roll got its first taste of Domino with the song "Ain't That a Shame" in 1955. Fats reached number ten in the charts with this one, but it would be recorded again by the white artist, Pat Boone, and would go all the way to number one.
Domino saw five songs go to the top forty in 1956, among them "I'm in Love Again" and the 1940 Glenn Miller hit "Blueberry Hill." The latter song would reach number two in the pop charts. Fats was one of the originators of New Orleans rock, which is a style emphasizing low key blues wailing, occasional Spanish rhythms and Creole melodies, and a far more subtle boogie-woogie based piano stomping than is found in Rockabilly.
Like many other rock and roll artists of the time, Fats did not limit himself to only recording music in the studio. He appeared in the 1957 rock and roll movie, "The Girl Can't Help It" as well as several other pictures.
Domino had several other top-ten songs in the late 1950's including the oddly titled "Be My Guest." This song was acquired from a teenage boy who had been told by his father to get a job or leave the house. The youth's response to his father's orders was to write the song "Be My Guest" and wait in line to be able to give it to Fats. The boy finally got his chance and Fats recorded the song, launching the songwriting career of the boy, Tommy Boyce.
Fats Domino continued on with hits such as "I'm Walking" in 1957, which sold a million copies and would later serve as a debut piece for Ricky Nelson. While Domino only achieved a spot as high as number two in the pop charts, his music dominated the Rhythm and Blues charts for some time.
During a time in 1956 and 1957, Fats held the number one spot in the R&B chart for 5 months as well as producing 5 top forty hits. The last song by Fats Domino to enter the top ten was "Walking to New Orleans" in 1960.
Domino also dabbled a bit in the music of other artists and recorded some Hank Williams pieces including "You Win Again." His last top-forty song came with his rendition of "Red Sails in the Sunset" in 1963. Right in the midst of Beatlemania, Fats even recorded a cover of the Beatles tune, "Lady Madonna," in 1968.
Domino, along with artists such as Joe Turner and Chuck Berry, did much to help integrate the sounds of traditionally black music into more mainstream music. His accomplishments were recognized by the Rhythm and Blues, Pop and Country charts. While producing some of his country hits, "Jambalaya" and "You Win Again", Fats' album actually reached the record store shelves before "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" by Ray Charles. Domino is also credited with influencing the styles of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who both recorded versions of Domino songs on solo albums.
In 1986, Fats Domino was one of the original Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees as well as receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Even recognized by the United States government, in 1998, Fats was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts presented to him by President Bill Clinton.
Throughout his career, Domino had 35 top ten hits and sold 65 million albums.
Currently, Fats continues to reside in New Orleans and remains married to his wife, Rosemary, with whom he has eight children. He performs live only on occasion, but a rumor is circulating that he is working on a new album.
Page author: N.G.