Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino Jr. (born February 26, 1928) is an American rhythm and blues and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter. Domino released five gold (million-copy-selling) records before 1955. Domino also had 35 Top 40 American hits and has a music style based on traditional rhythm and blues ensembles of bass, piano, electric guitar, drums, and saxophone.
Life[edit source | edit]Edit
Domino was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Domino, in addition to his African-American heritage, is also of French Creole background; Creole was his first language. Domino was delivered at home by his midwife grandmother. Like most families in the Lower Ninth Ward, Domino's family were new arrivals from Vacherie, Louisiana.
His father was a well-known violinist, and Domino was inspired to play himself. He eventually learned from his uncle, jazz guitarist Harrison Verrett.
Imperial Records era (1949–1962)[edit source | edit]EditFats Domino singing "Blueberry Hill" on The Ed Sullivan Show (1956)
Domino first attracted national attention with "The Fat Man" in 1950 on Imperial Records. This song is an early rock and roll record, featuring a rolling piano and Domino doing "wah-wah" vocalizing over a strong back beat. "The Fat Man" sold one million copies by 1953. Fats Domino released a series of hit songs with producer and co-writer Dave Bartholomew, saxophonists Herbert Hardesty and Alvin "Red" Tyler and drummers Earl Palmer and Smokey Johnson. Other notable and long-standing musicians in Domino's band were saxophonists Reggie Houston, Lee Allen, and Fred Kemp, Domino's trustedbandleader. Domino finally crossed into the pop mainstream with "Ain't That A Shame" (1955), which hit the Top Ten, though Pat Boone characteristically hit No. 1 with a milder cover of the song that received wider radio airplay in a racially-segregated era. Domino eventually had 37 Top 40 singles.
Domino's first album, Carry on Rockin', was released under the Imperial imprint, No. 9009, in November 1955 and subsequently reissued as Rock and Rollin' with Fats Domino in 1956. Combining a number of his hits along with some tracks that had not yet been released as singles, the album went on under its alternate title to reach No. 17 on the "Pop Albums" chart.
His 1956 version of the 1940 Vincent Rose, Al Lewis & Larry Stock song, "Blueberry Hill" reached No. 2 in the Top 40, was No. 1 on the R&B charts for 11 weeks, and was his biggest hit. "Blueberry Hill" sold more than 5 million copies worldwide in 1956–57. The song had earlier been recorded by Gene Autry, and Louis Armstrong among many others. He had further hit singles between 1956 and 1959, including "When My Dreamboat Comes Home" (Pop No. 14), "I'm Walkin'" (Pop No. 4), "Valley of Tears" (Pop No. 8), "It's You I Love" (Pop No. 6), "Whole Lotta Loving" (Pop No. 6), "I Want to Walk You Home" (Pop No. 8), and "Be My Guest" (Pop No. 8).
Domino appeared in two films released in 1956: Shake, Rattle & Rock! and The Girl Can't Help It. On December 18, 1957, Domino's hit "The Big Beat" was featured on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.
On November 2, 1956, a riot broke out at Fats Domino's show in Fayetteville, NC, with police resorting to tear gas to break up the unruly crowd. Domino jumped out of a window to avoid the melee; he and two other band members were slightly injured.
Domino continued to have a steady series of hits for Imperial through early 1962, including "Walkin' to New Orleans" (1960, Pop No. 6), co-written by Bobby Charles, and "My Girl Josephine" (Pop No. 14) from the same year. After Imperial Records was sold to outside interests in early 1963, Domino left the label: "I stuck with them until they sold out," he claimed in 1979. In all, Domino recorded over 60 singles for the label, placing 40 songs in the top 10 on the R&B charts, and scoring 11 top 10 singles on the pop charts. Twenty-two of Domino's Imperial singles were double-sided hits.
Post-Imperial recording career (1963–1970s)[edit source | edit]Edit
Domino moved to ABC-Paramount Records in 1963. The label dictated that he record in Nashville rather than New Orleans. He was assigned a new producer (Felton Jarvis) and a new arranger (Bill Justis); Domino's long-term collaboration with producer/arranger/frequent co-writer Dave Bartholomew, who oversaw virtually all of his Imperial hits, was seemingly at an end.
Jarvis and Justis changed the Domino sound somewhat, notably by adding the backing of a countrypolitan-style vocal chorus to most of his new recordings. Perhaps as a result of this tinkering with an established formula, Domino's chart career was drastically curtailed. He released 11 singles for ABC-Paramount, but only had one top 40 entry with "Red Sails In The Sunset" (1963). By the end of 1964 the British Invasion had changed the tastes of the record-buying public, and Domino's chart run was over.
Despite the lack of chart success, Domino continued to record steadily until about 1970, leaving ABC-Paramount in mid-1965 and recording for a variety of other labels: Mercury, Dave Bartholomew's small Broadmoor label (reuniting with Bartholomew along the way), and Reprise. His final Top 100 chart single was on Reprise, a cover of The Beatles' "Lady Madonna", which peaked at No. 100 in 1968. He also continued as a popular live act for several decades.
He made a cameo appearance in the movie Any Which Way You Can, filmed in 1979 and released in 1980, which resulted in a Country Chart hit, "Whiskey Heaven".
Later career (1980s–2005)[edit source | edit]Edit
In the 1980s, Domino decided he would no longer leave New Orleans, having a comfortable income from royalties and a dislike for touring, and claiming he could not get any food that he liked any place else. His induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an invitation to perform at the White House failed to persuade Domino to make an exception to this policy.
Domino lived in a mansion in a predominantly working-class Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, where he was a familiar sight in his bright pink Cadillac automobile. He makes yearly appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and other local events. Domino was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. Domino's last tour was a three-week European Tour in 1995. In 1998, President Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him No. 25 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
By the end of his career, Domino was credited with more charted Rock hits than any other classic rock artist except for Elvis Presley 
Domino and Hurricane Katrina[edit source | edit]EditGraffiti on Domino's home from the time he was rumored deadFats Domino's office, June 2007
When Hurricane Katrina was approaching New Orleans in August 2005 Domino chose to stay at home with his family, partly because of his wife Rosemary's poor health. His house was in an area that was heavily flooded.
Someone thought Domino was dead, and spray-painted a message on his home, "RIP Fats. You will be missed", which was shown in news photos. On September 1, talent agent, Al Embry, announced that he had not heard from the musician since before the hurricane had struck.
Later that day, CNN reported that Domino was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. Prior to this, even family members had not heard from Domino since before the storm. Embry confirmed that Domino and his family had been rescued. The Domino family was then taken to a Baton Rouge shelter, after which they were picked up by JaMarcus Russell, the starting quarterback of the Louisiana State University football team, and Fats' granddaughter's boyfriend. He let the Dominos stay in his apartment. The Washington Post reported that on September 2, they had left Russell's apartment after sleeping three nights on the couch. "We've lost everything," Domino said, according to the Post.
President George W. Bush made a personal visit and replaced the National Medal of Arts that President Bill Clinton had previously awarded Fats. The gold records were replaced by the RIAA and Imperial Records catalog owner Capitol Records.
Post-Katrina activity[edit source | edit]EditFats Domino, wearing a National Medal of Arts, a replacement by President George W. Bush on August 29, 2006, after the original, bestowed upon him by former President Bill Clinton, was lost in the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina
Domino was the first artist to be announced as scheduled to perform at the 2006 Jazz & Heritage Festival. However, he was too ill to perform when scheduled and was only able to offer the audience an on-stage greeting. Domino also released an album Alive and Kickin' in early 2006 to benefit the Tipitina's Foundation, which supports indigent local musicians. The title song was recorded after Katrina, but most of the cuts were from unreleased sessions in the 1990s.
On January 12, 2007, Domino was honored with OffBeat magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Best of the Beat Awards held at House of Blues in New Orleans. New Orleans MayorRay Nagin declared the day "Fats Domino Day in New Orleans" and presented Fats with a signed declaration. OffBeat publisher Jan Ramsey and WWL-TV's Eric Paulsen presented Fats with the Lifetime Achievement Award. An all-star musical tribute followed with an introduction by the legendary producer Cosimo Matassa. The Lil' Band O' Gold rhythm section, Warren Storm, Kenny Bill Stinson, David Egan and C. C. Adcock, not only anchored the band, but each contributed lead vocals, swamp pop legend Warren Storm leading off with "Let the Four Winds Blow" and "The Prisoner Song", which he proudly introduced by saying, "Fats Domino recorded this in 1958 ... and so did I." The horn section included Lil' Band O' Gold's Dickie Landry, the Iguanas' Derek Huston, and long-time Domino horn men Roger Lewis, Elliot "Stackman" Callier and Herb Hardesty. They were joined by Jon Cleary (who also played guitar in the rhythm section), Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Irma Thomas, George Porter, Jr. (who, naturally, came up with a funky arrangement for "You Keep On Knocking"), Art Neville, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, who wrote and debuted a song in tribute of Domino for the occasion. Though Domino did not perform, those near him recall him playing air piano and singing along to his own songs.
Domino returned to stage on May 19, 2007, at Tipitina's at New Orleans, performing to a full house. A foundation has been formed and a show is being planned for Domino and the restoration of his home, where he intends to return someday. "I like it down there" he said in a February 2006 CBS News interview.
In May 2009, Domino made an unexpected appearance in the audience for The Domino Effect, a namesake concert featuring Little Richard and other artists, aimed at raising funds to help rebuild schools and playgrounds damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
In October 2012, Domino was featured in season 3 of the television series Treme, playing himself.
Influence[edit source | edit]Edit
He was an important influence on the music of the 1960s and 1970s and acknowledged as such by some of the top artists of that era. Paul McCartney reportedly wrote The Beatles song "Lady Madonna" in an emulation of Domino's style, combining it with a nod to Humphrey Lyttelton's 1956 hit "Bad Penny Blues", a record Joe Meek engineered. Domino did manage to return to the "Hot 100" charts one final time in 1968—with his own recording of "Lady Madonna". That recording, as well as covers of two other songs by The Beatles, appeared on his Reprise LP Fats Is Back, produced by Richard Perry and recorded by a band that included New Orleans piano player James Booker; Domino played piano only on one track, "I'm Ready." Also was the influence behind the naming of Jamaican ska band Justin Hinds and the Dominoes in the 1960s; Justin's favorite singer being Fats Domino. In 2007, various artists came together for a tribute to Fats Domino by recording a live session with all Fats Domino covers. Guests included on the album, titled "Going Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino" include Paul McCartney, Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Elton John. Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney later recorded Fats Domino songs. Domino's rhythm, accentuating the offbeat as in the song "Be My Guest", was an influence on ska music.
Singles discography[edit source | edit]Edit
Nationally charted hits shown in bold.
|A-Side||B-Side||Year||Label + Cat. No.||Chart positions|
|US Hot 100||US R&B||UK|
|Detroit City Blues||The Fat Man||1949||Imperial 5058||2|
|Boogie-Woogie Baby||Little Bee||1950||Imperial 5065|
|Hide Away Blues||She's My Baby||1950||Imperial 5077|
|Hey La Bas Boogie||Brand New Baby||1950||Imperial 5085|
|Every Night about This Time||Korea Blues||1950||Imperial 5099||5|
|Tired of Crying||What's the Matter Baby||1951||Imperial 5114|
|Don't You Lie to Me||Sometimes I Wonder||1951||Imperial 5123|
|Right From Wrong||No, No Baby||1951||Imperial 5138|
|Rockin' Chair||Careless Love||1951||Imperial 5145||9|
|I'll Be Gone||You Know I Miss You||1952||Imperial 5167|
|Goin' Home||Reeling and Rocking||1952||Imperial 5180||30||1|
|Poor Poor Me||Trust in Me||1952||Imperial 5197||10|
|How Long||Dreaming||1952||Imperial 5209||9|
|Nobody Loves Me||Cheatin'||1953||Imperial 5220|
|Going to the River||Mardi Gras in New Orleans||1953||Imperial 5231||24||2|
|Please Don't Leave Me||The Girl I Love||1953||Imperial 5240||3|
|Rose Mary||You Said You Loved Me||1953||Imperial 5251||10|
|Something's Wrong||Don't Leave Me This Way||1953||Imperial 5262||6|
|You Done Me Wrong||Little School Girl||1954||Imperial 5272||10|
|Where Did You Stay||Baby Please||1954||Imperial 5283|
|You Can Pack Your Suitcase||I Lived My Life||1954||Imperial 5301|
|Love Me||Don't You Hear Me Calling You||1954||Imperial 5313|
|I Know||Thinking of You||1954||Imperial 5323||14|
|Don't You Know||Helping Hand||April 1955||Imperial 5340||7|
|Ain't That a Shame||La La||August 1955||Imperial 5348||10||1||23|
|All By Myself||Troubles of My Own||September 1955||Imperial 5357||1|
|Poor Me||November 1955||Imperial 5369||1|
|I Can't Go On||1955||Imperial 5369||6|
|Bo Weevil||April 1956||Imperial 5375||35||5|
|Don't Blame It on Me||1956||Imperial 5375||9|
|I'm in Love Again||March 1956||Imperial 5386||3||1||12|
|My Blue Heaven||19||5|
|When My Dreamboat Comes Home||July 1956||Imperial 5396||14||2|
|Blueberry Hill||September 1956||Imperial 5407||2||1||6|
|Blue Monday||December 1956||Imperial 5417||5||1||23|
|What's the Reason I'm Not Pleasing You||50||12|
|I'm Walkin'||I'm in the Mood for Love||February 1957||Imperial 5428||4||1||19|
|The Rooster Song||My Happiness//As Time Goes By//Hey La Bas (4 song EP)||1957||Imperial 147||13|
|Valley of Tears||April 1957||Imperial 5442||8||2||25|
|It's You I Love||6||2|
|When I See You||July 1957||Imperial 5454||29||14|
|What Will I Tell My Heart||64||12|
|Wait and See||September 1957||Imperial 5467||23||7|
|I Still Love You||79|
|The Big Beat||December 1957||Imperial 5477||26||15||20|
|I Want You to Know||32|
|Yes My Darling||Don't You Know I Love You||February 1958||Imperial 5492||55||10|
|Sick and Tired||April 1958||Imperial 5515||22||14||26|
|Little Mary||Prisoner's Song||July 1958||Imperial 5526||48||4|
|Young School Girl||It Must Be Love||August 1958||Imperial 5537||92||15|
|Whole Lotta Loving||October 1958||Imperial 5553||6||2|
|Telling Lies||January 1959||Imperial 5569||50||13|
|When the Saints Go Marching In||50|
|I'm Ready||April 1959||Imperial 5585||16||7|
|I Want to Walk You Home||July 1959||Imperial 5606||8||1||14|
|I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday||17||22|
|Be My Guest||October 1959||Imperial 5629||8||2||11|
|I've Been Around||33||19|
|Country Boy||January 1960||Imperial 5645||25||19|
|If You Need Me||98|
|Tell Me That You Love Me||April 1960||Imperial 5660||51|
|Before I Grow Too Old||84||17|
|Walking to New Orleans||June 1960||Imperial 5675||6||2||19|
|Don't Come Knockin'||21||28|
|Three Nights a Week||August 1960||Imperial 5687||15||8||45|
|Put Your Arms Around Me Honey||58|
|My Girl Josephine||October 1960||Imperial 5704||14||7||32|
|Natural Born Lover||38||28|
|Ain't That Just Like a Woman||January 1961||Imperial 5723||33||19|
|What a Price||22||7|
|Shu Rah||March 1961||Imperial 5734||32|
|Fell in Love on Monday||32|
|It Keeps Rainin'||I Just Cry||May 1961||Imperial 5753||23||18||49|
|Let The Four Winds Blow||Good Hearted Man||July 1961||Imperial 5764||15||2|
|What A Party||September 1961||Imperial 5779||22||43|
|I Hear You Knocking||November 1961||Imperial 5796||67|
|Jambalaya (On the Bayou)||30||41|
|You Win Again||February 1962||Imperial 5816||22|
|My Real Name||My Heart Is Bleeding||May 1962||Imperial 5833||59||22|
|Dance with Mr. Domino||July 1962||Imperial 5863||98|
|Nothing New (Same Old Thing)||77|
|Did You Ever See a Dream Walking||September 1962||Imperial 5875||79|
|Stop the Clock||103|
|Won't You Come on Back||Hands Across the Table||November 1962||Imperial 5895|
|Hum Diddy Doo||Those Eyes||January 1963||Imperial 5909||124|
|You Always Hurt the One You Love||Trouble Blues||March 1963||Imperial 5937||102|
|True Confession||Isle of Capri||May 1963||Imperial 5959|
|One Night||I Can't Go on This Way||1963||Imperial 5980|
|There Goes (My Heart Again)||May 1963||ABC 10444||59|
|Can't Go on Without You||123|
|When I'm Walking (Let Me Walk)||July 1963||ABC 10475||114|
|I've Got a Right to Cry||128|
|Red Sails in the Sunset||Song For Rosemary||1963||ABC 10484||35||24||34|
|I Can't Give You Anything But Love||Goin' Home||August 1963||Imperial 66005||114|
|Who Cares||1963||ABC 10512||63||27|
|Just a Lonely Man||1963||ABC 10512||108|
|Your Cheatin' Heart||When I Was Young||1964||Imperial 66016||112|
|Lazy Lady||1964||ABC 10531||86||34|
|I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire||1964||ABC 10531||122|
|If You Don't Know What Love Is||Something You Got Baby||1964||ABC 10545|
|Mary, Oh Mary||Packin' Up||1964||ABC 10567||127|
|Sally Was a Good Old Girl||For You||1964||ABC 10584||99|
|Kansas City||Heartbreak Hill||1964||ABC 10596||99|
|Why Don't You Do Right||Wigs||1965||ABC 10631|
|Let Me Call You Sweetheart||Goodnight Sweetheart||1965||ABC 10644|
|I Done Got Over It||I Left My Heart In San Francisco||1965||Mercury 72463|
|What's That You Got?||It's Never Too Late||1965||Mercury 72485|
|The Lady in Black||Working My Way Up Steady||1967||Broadmoor 104|
|Big Mouth||Wait 'Til It Happens to You||1967||Broadmoor 105|
|One For The Highway||Honest Papas Love Their Mamas Better||1968||Reprise 0696|
|Lady Madonna||One for the Highway||1968||Reprise 0763||100|
|Lovely Rita||Wait 'Till It Happens to You||1968||Reprise 0775|
|Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey||So Swell When You're Well||1969||Reprise 0843|
|Make Me Belong to You||Have You Seen My Baby||1970||Reprise 0891|
|New Orleans Ain't the Same||Sweet Patootie||1970||Reprise 0944|
|Sleeping on the Job||After Hours||1978||Sonet 2168 -UK|
|Whiskey Heaven||--||1980||Warner Bros. 49610|