Fats Domino: The Image Always Stayed the Same and His Music Stayed True to His Fans

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The first time I saw Fats Domino was in a club at Revere Beach in Massachusetts in 1969. He was doing a show there and was cordial and relaxed and even took one of his breaks sitting at the bar of the club.

He talked with fans who walked over to tell him how much they loved his music. That image to this day still reminds me of his charming ability to connect with average folks. Even though he was dressed to the hilt he spoke calmly with each of the fans that came by to talk with him. You didn’t really feel that you were talking to a star but rather with a neighbor who was a friend.

Fats married his wife Rosemary in 1948 and during their marriage they had eight children. Unfortunately she passed away in 2008 after 60 years of marriage to Fats.

Some members of Fats’ family were into music and he first learned to play piano from his brother-in-law. Fats dropped out of school at age 14 and got a factory job to support himself. In his spare time in the evenings he developed his music style of playing boogie and R&B music. By 1949 he had started to establish himself in music and was fronting his own band at a local club called the Hideaway Club.

domino qq pkv whether they be singers, actors, or others can point out to an incident in their career that was a turning point for them. During 1949 at the Hideaway was Fats’ time for this to happen and set the path to stardom.

He was introduced to Dave Bartholomew, an established trumpet player and because of Dave’s recommendation was signed to Imperial Records. During their partnership they co-wrote many of Fats’ hits with the first one in 1949 titled “The Fat Man.” Some have dubbed it the first Rock and Roll record but that is subject to historical interpretation. By 1953 it became an instant hit and sold a million copies.

Some of the other famous hits they co-wrote were: “Ain’t That a Shame”, “Blue Monday”, “I’m Walkin”, “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday”, and “My Girl Josephine”.

Of the over than 120 singles’ cuts that Fats released, his biggest hit was “Blueberry Hill.” It sold more than 5 million copies worldwide in a two year period during the 50s. He also had hits with “I Want To Walk You Home”, “Whole Lotta Loving”, and “It’s You I Love”.

During the time that Fats was with his first label which was Imperial Records he accomplished something that was unheard of in the days of singles records. Usually the 45s only had a hit on the A side or the B side. The noteworthy fact is that Fats Domino had 22 singles that were double-sided hits.

Some of the meritorious awards he received during his career were:

 

  • In 1986 inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • In 1987 the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 29th Grammy show
  • In 1995 the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation
  • In 1998 inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • In 2007 the American Legend Award from the Recording Industry Association of America

 

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 I remember it well. Parts of Louisiana got hit quite hard. The area where Fats was living was destroyed by the crushing hurricane winds and flooding waters. Fats had wanted to stay and ride out the storm in his residence. Once the storm had subsided and was over he and his family had disappeared in his beloved New Orleans’ ninth ward. No one could find him and people began to suspect the worse that he had perished in the storm. As each hour passed the word began to take on a reality that Fats was gone. The news spread to his fans nationwide and worldwide.

But then official news came in that he and his wife had been rescued by the National Guard. The statement said that they were safe and staying with relatives. After a period of weeks he granted an interview and stated that they had lost everything including all his awards and gold records. But he stated that they would rebuild a new residence there as he was determined to stay in New Orleans.

Through all this tragedy I saw Fats the same as I always have. He has just turned 85 years old and he is calm and soft-spoken and doesn’t hesitate to talk about music. I thought how so many singers pass away all too soon. How lucky we are to have had this immensely talented and kind man with us for so many years.

I’m Paul Romaine and the host Our philosophy is to have a venue where singers and musicians can showcase their work. Rather than just having one winner from all of the applicants, there will be many applicants that get to have their work submitted and recognized permanently on our site.

 

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