Fats Domino Dies at 89
Legendary pianoman and rock and roll architect Fats Domino passed away yesterday at his daughter’s New Orleans home. According to a family friend, he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Born Antoine Domino Jr in February of 1928, Fats was born and raised in New Orleans, the last of eight children, the grandson of a slavelearning Louisiana Creole French as his first language. His brother-in-law taught him how to play the piano when he was seven, and he eventually joined a band and played around town at night while working in a mattress factory during the day. It was that bandleader who nicknamed the rock piano pioneer, leading to the release of his debut album The Fat Man, which was released through Imperial Records, who had signed Fats right off the bandstand. In 1949, Fats met David Bartholomew, who would become Domino’s exclusive arranger, writing what came to be Fats Domino’s favorite song, “Blue Monday.”
Between 1950 and 1963, Fats Domino hit the R&B charts 59 times and the pop charts an impressive 63 times. During this time he also outsold Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly combined, with only Elvis outselling Fats at the time. While the 50s saw Fats playing to young, segregated crowds chequered by racial and hormonal tension, the 60s took a shift towards an overly white crowd, gaining favor and popularity with all sorts of crowds in the South, including the KKK. As rock and roll morphed thorugh the 60s and 70s, Fats Domino stuck to his sound, quite literally, insisting that his audiences deserved to hear exactly what they hear on the record.
When he retired from touring, Fats settled back into his life in Louisiana’s Lower Ninth Ward where he was born and raised. He insisted on staying by his family during Hurricane Katrina, and spent his remaining years there comfortably and at home. Fats Domino was 89.