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Fats Domino, Architect Of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Dead At 89

A 1967 mural of Fats Domino. The thespian and pianist died Oct. 24 during age 89.

Clive Limpkin/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


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Clive Limpkin/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A 1967 mural of Fats Domino. The thespian and pianist died Oct. 24 during age 89.

Clive Limpkin/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Fats Domino, one of a architects of stone ‘n’ roll, died Tuesday during his daughter’s suburban New Orleans home. Haydee Ellis, a family friend, reliable a news to NPR. Mark Bone, arch questioner for a Jefferson Parish coroner’s office, tells NPR that Domino, who was 89, died of healthy causes.

In a 1940s, Antoine Domino Jr. was operative during a mattress bureau in New Orleans and personification piano during night. Both his waistline and his fan bottom were expanding. That’s when a bandleader began job him “Fats.” From there, it was a cakewalk to his initial million-selling record — “The Fat Man.” It was Domino’s initial recover for Imperial Records, that sealed him right off a bandstand.

Producer, songwriter, arranger and bandleader Dave Bartholomew was there. He described a stage in a 1981 talk now housed during a Hogan Jazz Archive during Tulane University. “Fats was rocking a joint,” Bartholomew said. “And he was sweating and playing, he’d put his whole heart and essence in what he was doing, and a people was crazy about him — so that was it. We done a initial record, ‘The Fat Man,’ and we never incited around.”

Between 1950 and 1963, Domino strike a RB charts a reported 59 times, and a cocktail charts a feeling 63 times. He outsold Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly — combined. Only Elvis Presley changed some-more annals during that widen — and Presley cited Domino as a early master.

So how did a black male with a fourth-grade preparation in a Jim Crow South, a child of Haitian Creole camp workers and a grandson of a slave, sell some-more than 65 million records?

Domino could “wah-wah-waaaaah” and “woo-hooo!” like nobody else in a whole far-reaching universe — and he done piano triplets entire in stone ‘n’ roll. “Blueberry Hill,” for example, was not Domino’s possess strain — it was initial published in 1940 and had already been available by a likes of Glenn Miller, Gene Autry and Louis Armstrong — nonetheless Domino’s chronicle in 1956, finish with those right-hand triplets, was unforgettable.

Piano actor Jon Cleary has clinging many of his life to a New Orleans sound. “The triplets thing,” he says, “that was one of a building blocks of New Orleans RB. And that’s unequivocally a famous Fats Domino groove. Everybody knows that.”

And afterwards there was Bartholomew. He and operative Cosimo Matassa polished a rhythm-heavy sound in Matassa’s studio that was a enviousness of stone ‘n’ roll. “Blueberry Hill” might have been Domino’s biggest hit, nonetheless Bartholomew wrote Domino’s favorite: “Blue Monday.”

“Blue Monday” had other levels of definition in Domino’s career. In a 1950s, a birth of stone ‘n’ hurl was tough labor. Social critics called a song vulgar. Jim Crow laws segregated Domino’s audiences, infrequently with usually a rope. And a multiple of secular tragedy and teenage hormones during concerts valid violent: bottle-throwing, rip gas, stabbings and arrests.

Domino’s biographer, Rick Coleman, says that there was a genuine breach between that epoch and a work that Domino was producing. “It was not an easy time period, even nonetheless a song was pleasing and joyful,” he observes. “It was a tough birth.”

By 1960, Domino’s assembly was overwhelmingly white. In South Carolina, a Ku Klux Klan gave his rope directions — by a light of a blazing cross. The late saxophone actor Herbert Hardesty was pushing a Domino train on that occasion.

“So we had to make it tight,” Hardesty recounted. “In about 5 minutes, we came to Ku Klux Klan. They said, ‘Well, where’s Fats Domino?’ we said, ‘He’s not here.’ They said, ‘What are we guys doing?’ we said, ‘I’m lost, I’m perplexing to get behind to a highway.’ And they were really good — a Ku Klux Klan treated us really nice!”

The British Invasion sent scarcely each American performer acrobatics down a charts. And nonetheless longtime confidante Ellis says that Domino wouldn’t change a note. “He said, ‘When we play,’ ” she explains, ” ‘I wish a people to hear accurately what they’re used to conference on a record.’ And eventually, that was one of a things that done him demure to play, let’s say. He was fearful that he would, we know, disaster adult a word or whatever.”

Domino toured for many years nonetheless eventually staid into life during his devalue in a Lower Ninth Ward, cooking loads of hog’s conduct cheese for his many friends. Then came Hurricane Katrina — and everybody suspicion he was dead.

“When Katrina came,” Ellis gasps, “Oh, Lord! Fats would contend he wanted to leave, nonetheless he said, ‘What kind of male would we be if we left my family? They don’t wish to leave.’ “

The family survived. Domino lived out a post-Katrina years in a suburb of New Orleans with one of his 8 children. But his residence still stands on Caffin Avenue, in a Lower Ninth Ward, and has been easy in new years. It’s a sign of a mass that a area once produced, of a golden age of New Orleans song — and of what a fat male can do.