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. Share on X

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.


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FOOTNOTE:

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.”


 

 

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

  1. Never as a white teenager saw Fats as a grandpa. All I heard was his foot movin’ music. Being disc jockey for our High School sox hops in early 60’s Fats made some serious relationships on the dance floor. The last song was always “I Want To Walk YOU Home”.

    Reply
    • DON

      Thanks for the comment and sharing the memories.

      I meant my statement to reflect the fact that Fats was almost 30-years-old when he appeared on Bandstand in ’57. Since that statement could be read to be demeaning—the LAST thing I intended it to be—I have removed it from the article.

      Keep on keepin’ on!

      NEAL

      Reply

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