antoine “fats” domino has left new orleans for the last time

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

I NEVER THOUGHT of An­toine “Fats” Domino as a rock & roll artist. I thought he was a rhythm & blues-based artist, maybe a boogie-woogie artist, def­i­nitely a New Or­leans artist. For some reason, white teenagers in the ’50s glommed onto him and the rest is rock & roll history.

I mean, yeah, when I was a kid in­her­iting my Aunt Judy’s 45 col­lec­tion, I thought every­thing in it was rock & roll, from great stuff like Fats and the Plat­ters to Fabian and silly jive like Who put the bomp in the bomp-bah-bomp-bah-bomp, who put the ram in the rama-lama-ding-dong?

But it didn’t take long for me to re­alize that Fats prob­ably shouldn’t be lumped in with the other rock & rollers he shared the Top 40 air­waves with in the late ’50s and early ’60s. By the time he found his way onto Top 40 radio, he was a pro who had sold a few mil­lion records.

For some reason, white teenagers in the ’50s glommed onto Fats Domino and the rest is his­tory. Click To Tweet

Photo of Antoine "Fats" Domino from the 1950s.

After the pub­li­ca­tion of the first edi­tion of my book Gold­mine’s Rock’n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide in 1990, I re­ceived a fan letter from Fats him­self! It was a brief note thanking me for the kind words that I had written about him and in­cluded an au­to­graphed photo of the manNeed­less to say, I was stunned. 1

While he is part of that first rock & roll era, he never jumped on­board the rock & roll bandwagon—he was sort of swept aboard by eager admirers.

He never com­plained. Top 40 radio and get­ting a couple of calls from Hol­ly­wood changed nothing, it let him make a lot more money and, hope­fully, have a lot more fun.

Had the kids never found him, he could as easily been adopted by the jazz scene, rec­og­nized as a fellow traveler.

Of course, then he would have sold a lot fewer records and made a lot less money.

His music didn’t change, as wit­ness the video clip here from 1988.

Nonethe­less, he was right­fully in­ducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

It’s now more than sixty years since they started calling Fats a rock & roll singer and I still don’t think of him as making rock & roll music.

I think of him as making Fats Domino music . . .

Photo of Antoine "Fats" Domino from the 1950s.



1   My discog­raphy for Fats in that first edi­tion took up al­most two pages, one of the longer en­tries in the book. About him I wrote:

“An­toine ‘Fats’ Domino was al­ready a fix­ture on the New Or­leans rhythm ‘n blues scene when rock ‘n roll reared its hip-shaking head. After two-dozen sin­gles and without al­tering his style, Fats found his for­merly seg­re­gated music on the white radio stations.

In the pre-Beatles era (1955-1962), he placed sixty-one sides on the pop charts, second only to Elvis’ sixty-six charting songs during the same pe­riod. With his move to ABC-Paramount, he found his days as a pop idol winding down.

Still, his piano tech­nique and re­laxed, good-natured (and often in­ten­tion­ally gar­bled) ap­proach to singing has af­fected r&b and r&r vo­cal­ists and pi­anists since.”



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