Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm and blues singer whose hits include Blueberry Hill and Ain’t That a Shame, has died aged 89 of natural causes.
Domino, born in 1928 and one of nine siblings, left school at 14 to take on work in a bedspring factory – but went on to sell over 110m records in a career that took off in the mid-1950s, having learned piano on an upright a cousin left in his New Orleans family home.
As his name suggests, he was frank about his 200lb frame. In his first recorded song, The Fat Man (1949), he sang that despite (or perhaps because of) his size, “all the girls, they love me, ’cause I know my way around” – it became a million-seller. With his distinctive gelled and flattened hairstyle, he would sometimes play the piano standing up, slamming his body against it to push it across the stage in time with the music.
He became one of the first black performers to feature on pop music television shows, appearing alongside the likes of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. But as rock’n’roll gave way to the guitar pop of the Beatles and others in the 1960s, American tastes changed, and his popularity started to dwindle. He didn’t chase fashion, however. “I refused to change,” he once said. “I had to stick to my own style that I’ve always used or it just wouldn’t be me.”
His style was of rolling waltz-time ballads and pounding uptempo numbers, and the best known of his songs is perhaps Blueberry Hill, later selected for the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry which recognises songs worthy of preservation. Originally written in 1940 and recorded by Louis Armstrong, Domino’s seductively smooth version became the most famous; even Vladimir Putin covered it at a charity dinner in 2010.
Domino also was one of the first ever inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and, in 1998, the first rock’n’roll musician to be awarded the National Medal for the Arts.
He lived in New Orleans all his life, and was badly affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – he had to be rescued by boat along with his family, losing three pianos and dozens of gold and platinum records. But he would occasionally still appear in the city’s blues clubs right up until 2007. He and his wife Rosemary, who died in 2008, brought up eight children together.
His friend David Lind described him as “warm, fun-loving, spiritual, creative and humble. You don’t get more New Orleans than that.”
Various stars have already paid tribute to him. LL Cool J said on Twitter, “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill… that line inspired me to dream,” Kid Rock called him “a true American treasure”, while songwriter Damien Jurado wrote: “There would have been no rock n’ roll, Jamaican ska, or rocksteady, had it not been for the major influence of Fats Domino.” Brian Wilson, Stephen King, Samuel L Jackson and Harry Connick Jr have also tweeted their respects. (by Ben Beaumont-Thomas; The Guardian)
And here´s his second LP from The Fifties … Come on, baby … Let the good times roll … including a great boogie piano (“Fat’s Frenzy”) and hot saxophone solos (“Second Line Jump”) and of course some sentimental ballads (“My Heart Is In Your Hands”) … that´s what I like !
Fats Domino (piano, vocals)
a bunch of unknon studio musicians
01. My Blue Heaven (Whiting/Donaldson) 2.10
02. Swanee River Hop (Traditional) 2.53
03. Second Line Jump (Bartholomew/Domino) 2.39
04. Goodbye (Bartholomew/Domino) 2.20
05. Careless Love (Koenig/Williams/Handy) 2.22
06. I Love Her (Bartholomew/Domino) 2.11
07. I’m In Love Again (Bartholomew/Domino) 1.56
08. When My Dreamboat Comes Home (Friend/Franklin) 2.20
09. Are You Going My Way (Bartholomew/Domino) 2.47
10. If You Need Me (Bartholomew/Domino) 2.08
11. My Heart Is In Your Hands (Bartholomew/Domino) 2.46
12. Fat’s Frenzy (Bartholomew/Domino) 2.31