Fats Domino was key to rock n’ roll

Blues le­gend re­leased the pop­u­lar mu­si­cal genre’s first-ever al­bum, writes Christina Horsten

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OBITUARIES -

AS A PI­O­NEER of rock ‘n’ roll, blues le­gend An­toine “Fats” Domino Jr came far from his hum­ble be­gin­nings in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Or­leans. De­spite trav­el­ling the world and see­ing his home wrecked by Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, he never wanted to leave.

A com­pletely de­stroyed pi­ano standing in the mid­dle of New Or­leans serves as a per­ma­nent re­minder of what was prob­a­bly the worst day in the life of Fats Domino.

The in­stru­ment, which was wrecked by wind and wa­ter dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005, is part of a per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion in the Louisiana State Mu­seum.

The rock ‘n’ roll pi­o­neer re­luc­tantly aban­doned his ochre yel­low house in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward to flood­ing in the 2005 nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, as well as many of his pos­ses­sions – in­clud­ing pi­anos, gold and plat­inum al­bums and pieces of mem­o­ra­bilia col­lected over his decades-long ca­reer.

The le­gendary New Or­leans singer and pi­anist, whose real name was An­toine Domino Jr, was re­ported miss­ing for days be­fore he was res­cued from the roof of his home by a he­li­copter as the flood­wa­ters inched higher and higher.

Domino never wanted to leave the Lower Ninth Ward, but was forced to take refuge with his daugh­ter in the city’s Har­vey sub­urb. It was here that he died at the age of 89 and was found by fam­ily, the lo­cal coroner con­firmed.

The singer known for hits like Blue­berry Hill and Ain’t That A Shame and My Blue Heaven will be missed by friends, fam­ily and mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions of mu­si­cians who count him as an in­spi­ra­tion.

“He paved the way for so many. I re­mem­ber lis­ten­ing to his mu­sic as a lit­tle boy,” US rap­per LL Cool J wrote on Twit­ter.

One of nine chil­dren born to a cre­ole fam­ily, Domino learned pi­ano from a brother-in-law.

At the age of 14 he left school and worked in a fac­tory so that he could per­form in clubs at night.

His break­through came at the age of 20 with his de­but al­bum The Fat Man, which be­came an in­stant best-seller in 1949.

To­day it is con­sid­ered one of the first rock ‘n’ roll al­bums ever pro­duced, pub­lished even be­fore the term rock ‘n’ roll was coined and be­fore singers such as Elvis Pres­ley and Bill Ha­ley made the mu­sic pop­u­lar.

Domino is cred­ited with putting his na­tive New Or­leans on the mu­si­cal map, rack­ing up more record sales that any 1950s rocker ex­cept for Elvis, ac­cord­ing to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

But as the Rolling Stones and the Bea­tles came on to the scene, Domino’s star be­gan to fade.

As his chart suc­cess dwin­dled, he rein­vented him­self by tak­ing to the road and tour­ing the world.

In 1986, he be­came one of the first mu­si­cians to be in­ducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, along­side icons in­clud­ing Elvis, Chuck Berry, James Brown and Ray Charles.

Soon after­wards he was also recog­nised by the Blues Hall of Fame, which made him the re­cip­i­ent of a rare dou­ble hon­our.

He raised eight chil­dren with his wife Rose­mary, who died in 2008.

The mu­si­cian had a sim­ple recipe for suc­cess.

“As far as I know, the mu­sic makes peo­ple happy,” he said in a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view. “I know it makes me happy.” – dpa

Mu­si­cians Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and James Brown when they were in­ducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

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