"The Fat Man" is a song by American rhythm and blues recording artist Fats Domino. It was written by Domino and Dave Bartholomew, and recorded on December 10, 1949. It is often cited as one of the first rock and roll records.
The song was recorded for Imperial Records in Cosimo Matassa's J&M studio on Rampart Street in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday, December 10, 1949. Imperial's Lew Chudd had previously asked Dave Bartholomew to show him some locally popular talent, and was most impressed with Fats Domino, then playing at a working class dive in the 9th Ward of New Orleans.
Domino sang and played piano, along with Earl Palmer on drums, Frank Fields on string bass, Ernest McLean on guitar, and sax players Herbert Hardesty, Clarence Hall, Joe Harris, and Alvin "Red" Tyler.
Music and lyricsEdit
The tune is a variation on the traditional New Orleans tune "Junker's Blues", as written by Drive'em Down, which also provided the melody for Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," and Professor Longhair's "Tipitina." "The Fat Man" features Domino's piano with a distinct back beat that dominates both the lead and the rhythm section. Earl Palmer said it was the first time a drummer played nothing but back beat for recording, which he said he derived from aDixieland "out chorus." Domino also scats a pair of choruses in a distinctive wah-wah falsetto, creating a variation on the lead similar to a muted Dixieland trumpet.
- They call, they call me the fat man
- ´Cause I weigh 200 pounds:
- All the girls they love me
- ´Cause I know my way around
The lyrics refer to watching Creole women at the intersection of Rampart Street and Canal Street, which at the time were the business centers of the city's African American and Caucasian population, respectively.
Release and reception[edit source | edit]Edit
"The Fat Man" was released in January 1950 by Imperial Records, and on February 18, it reached number two on the R&B Singles chart. It was Domino's debut single, the B-Side being "Detroit City Blues". Imperial advertising claimed it sold 10,000 copies in New Orleans in 10 days, and the record became a national hit in late January 1950. It sold one million copies by 1953.
"The Fat Man" is often cited as one of the first rock and roll records. Musicologist Ned Sublette said that the song was rock and roll before the term had been coined and that Domino crossed a line by playing a stripped-down, more aggressive boogie-woogie piano with a series of "piano-triplet-and-snare-backbeat hits."