Fats Domino died

Actually, there were two deaths on Tuesday. One was Mel Green, an old friend and sort of a mentor to me in genetics when I was a postdoc (more on that tomorrow), who died in Davis at 101. The other was  Antoine “Fats” Domino, who died yesterday in Harvey, Louisiana (right near New Orleans) at the age of 89. Given his rotundity, which gave rise to his nickname (he also was only 5’5″), I was surprised to learn he was still alive.

You can read his obituary at the Wikipedia link above, or in the New York Times, so I won’t reprise his life. Although one reader, who informed me of the death, guessed that I didn’t know much about Fats’s music, I certainly knew and appreciated many of his songs. The NYT points out his influence on the formation of rock and roll, and it’s a big one:

Mr. Domino  [JAC: I love how the NYT refuses to use first names, adding a “Mr.”!] had more than three dozen Top 40 pop hits through the 1950s and early ’60s, among them “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t It a Shame” (also known as “Ain’t That a Shame,” which is the actual lyric), “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.” Throughout he displayed both the buoyant spirit of New Orleans, his hometown, and a droll resilience that reached listeners worldwide.

He sold 65 million singles in those years, with 23 gold records, making him second only to Elvis Presley as a commercial force. Presley acknowledged Mr. Domino as a predecessor.

“A lot of people seem to think I started this business,” Presley told Jet magazine in 1957. “But rock ’n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that music like colored people. Let’s face it: I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that.”

If you listen to his song “The Fat Man“, you can clearly hear the beginning of rock but it was from 1949! (You can hear that and others on Rolling Stones‘s nice page of “Fats Domino: 12 Essential Songs.“)  Here: you listen for yourself and tell me if you don’t discern the roots of rock and roll. In fact, this is rock and roll, mixed with blues and boogie-woogie: you can hear Jerry Lee Lewis coming. If you didn’t know better, you’d guess this was made in the mid 1950s:

If you like Fats, go have a listen at the Rolling Stone page; but I’ll add one more  song: an old live performance of one of his best songs.

RIP Mr. Domino (yes, that’s metaphorical, as some reader always reminds me).


  1. BobTerrace
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Check out Fats Domino “I Almost Lost My Mind”.

    It is superb Blues.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. Good pick.

  2. Posted October 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    When I was a teenager, I found many a thrill while listening to Fats.

  3. Posted October 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the video of the above:

    • Christopher Bonds
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      That would be Herb Hardesty and most likely Lee Allen playing a delicious tenor sax duet. I can’t tell you how much I love that sound!

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Love Fats. I’m Ready

  5. Laurance
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    New York Times? No first name? I like they way they use the honorific (is that what you call the Mr. Mrs. Ms.?). Just the plain last name always jolts me. And I love Mr. Domino’s music. I was a teenager at just the right time.

  6. Mark Reaume
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Robert Guillaume (a.k.a. Benson) also died at 89 today 😦

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      That would be Benson from the inimitable soap opera, “Soap” – which also gave Billy Crystal his big break?
      Shame – one of the funniest (and sanest, but that didn’t really matter in that company) characters in the however-many series.

      • Mark Reaume
        Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        That’s correct, there was a spin-off from Soap of Guillaume’s character called Benson as well.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          Oh yes – vaguely remember. Seriously sanitised, IIRC.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Fats was one of the great R&B songwriters and boogie-woogie pianists to come out of New Orleans — along with Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and many others. When it comes to anything that’s worth anything in American culture — from music to food to literature — The Crescent City’s had much to contribute.

    Thanks for the great tunes, Fatman.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Hey! Just noticed that’s Mannix diggin’ the instrumental break at 1:30 of “Ain’t That a Shame.”

  9. Posted October 25, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    In the article I read earlier today about “Fats”, it was mentioned that the “Fats” name was given to him because he was thought to sound like “Fats” Waller and one other “Fats”.
    It also was pointed out that “The Fat Man” song was written in 1929.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 25, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      @Rowena Yes, he was dubbed “Fats” as a teen because his piano playing style resembled that of Fats Waller & Fats Pichon

  10. Posted October 25, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m saddened to hear of the death of Fats Domino. For a rock musician, he was remarkably humble and positive.

    I’m also saddened to hear of Mel Green’s death, though we can’t say he was taken from us far too young. Mel did not hesitate to make amusing critical remarks about others when he felt they were getting overly self-important. I didn’t know him as well as Jerry did, but one very quickly saw that he was a “character”.

  11. Frank
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    Irish poet Paul Durcan, and Van Morrison, certainly felt the same way about Fats and his contemporaries……..

    • Frank
      Posted October 26, 2017 at 3:15 am | Permalink

      Ooops…..maybe this time

  12. Posted October 26, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I had the same reaction – that guy was still around until recently? I associate him with my parents, which I guess is right if he was doing his thing when they were young (but not very young).

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