Domino was perhaps an unlikely teen idol. A master of New Orleans
boogie-style rhythm & blues, Fats nevertheless struck a chord
with teens and other music fans all over the world, resulting in a
string of hits that started before the rock & roll era and
continued into the 1960s.
A pianist, singer, and songwriter who was born in the Crescent City in 1928, Domino sold more records (65 million) than any
fifties-era rocker except Elvis Presley. Between 1950 and 1963, he
made the pop Top Forty thirty-seven times and the R&B singles chart fifty-nine times. Domino's biggest songs are as winning as his broad smile. They include "Ain't That a Shame," "Blueberry Hill," "I'm Walkin'," "Blue Monday" and "Walking to New Orleans."
By 1949, Domino had become a fixture at the Hideaway Club. That same year he met Dave Bartholomew, who became his longtime producer, bandleader and collaborator.
His first release was a song about drugs called
"The Fat Man," which was cleaned up a bit for commercial
reasons, and reached the R&B chart in 1950. According to some reports, the song was a million seller. The Fat Man also became
Fats Domino exploded onto the
rock & roll scene in 1955 when his song, "Ain't That a Shame," was covered by white recording artist Pat Boone. Boone's version went to number one, and Domino's version on Imperial went to number ten. The song established both artists as
stars, but Boone's version sounds quite lame compared to the
Sadly, Fats was left homeless
by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but he and his family were safely
Fats Domino's top ten hits:* "Ain't
That a Shame" (10), "I'm in Love Again" (3),
"Blueberry Hill," (2), "Blue Monday" (5), "I'm
Walkin'" (4), "Valley of Tears" (8), "It's You I
Love" (6), "Whole Lotta Loving (6), "I Want to Walk You
Home" (8), "Be My Guest" (8), "Walkin' to New
Orleans" (6). (Is there any significance to Fats' success with songs
--Dick Estel, August 2006
*Billboard pop singles chart, as reported in the book Top 40
Hits, copyright 1992 by Joel Whitburn.
(Some of the
material here was adapted from the Rock
& Roll Hall of Fame and History
of Rock & Roll web sites.)
died on October 24, 2017, at the age of 89, leaving a remarkable
legacy of great music.