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Fat Domino, who died final Wednesday aged 89, was one of many nice pioneers of rock ’n’ roll; a daily chart-topper in the course of the 1950s and 1960s, he bought greater than 110 million information, together with the singles Blueberry Hill and Ain’t Disgrace, inspiring generations of performers.
Domino started recording for Imperial Information within the late 1940s, and by the early 1960s had ambaded extra worldwide hits and gross sales than some other artist apart from Elvis Presley. Imbued with the joyful jazz, Latin, Creole, blues and boogie-woogie music of postwar New Orleans, his beguiling gravel-voiced patois, pounding roadhouse piano, rolling backbeat and soulful saxophone solos made every of his releases an occasion. A lot of his tunes, together with I’m Walkin’, I Hear You Knockin’ and Blue Monday, turned staples of the R&B repertoire.
He was born Antoine Domino on February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, the son of a labourer who labored on the Honest Grounds Race Monitor. His curiosity in music was impressed by the Dixieland musician Harrison Verrett (who would turn into Fat’s brother-in-law), and developed as he learnt to play the piano which his household had inherited.
By the age of 10, Antoine was enjoying in public, in addition to incomes cash from such jobs as delivering ice, chopping lawns and baking bread. By 1946 he had been employed to play on the Hideaway Membership with a band led by Billy Diamond, the primary individual to dub him “Fat” — of medium top, he now weighed almost 16 stone. Two years later he married Rose Mary Corridor, and inside a decade had eight youngsters (all given first names starting with “A”).
Maybe with a watch to having to supply for his rising household, Domino was adapting the boogie-woogie model to go well with a bigger, white, viewers. On this, he owed a lot to the bandleader Dave Bartholomew, and to Lew Chudd, the founding father of Imperial Information, one of many many labels which emerged after the struggle when the foremost corporations have been sluggish to recognise the rising rhythm-and-blues scene.
Having heard Bartholomew in Houston, Chudd met him once more in New Orleans, the place they later went to see Domino play. Bartholomew was put in command of discovering artists for the label, and the primary of them was Fat Domino, who was recorded in December 1949. His first single, made immediately on to an acetate disc in Cosimo Matbada’s J&M studio in Rampart Avenue, was The Fats Man, a sanitised model of a standard track about medicine referred to as Junker Blues. Subsequent gross sales have been to show the knowledge of his having signed a contract which obtained him royalties moderately than a straight price — inside a yr the document had bought nearly one million copies.
Its instant successors, all of which had been made on the similar session, didn’t do as properly, and it was not till the discharge of Each Evening About This Time that he once more had a sizeable hit exterior New Orleans. Its reputation could be attributed, partly, to the 6/eight, triplet model of piano enjoying which Domino had developed and which was to characterise lots of his information, most of them written in collaboration with Dave Bartholomew.
(A B-side, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, was by Professor Longhair, whose affect on town’s music wouldn’t be extensively appreciated for a number of a long time.)
A number of tremendous numbers, equivalent to Please Don’t Depart Me, Rose Mary (for his spouse, who died in 2008) and You Can Pack Your Suitcase, have been recorded right now, however in the course of the early 1950s Domino loved solely intermittent success within the hit parades. His excursions, nevertheless, have been all the time a preferred success, and it was on these that — weary of lodge meals — he developed the behavior of cooking for himself.
Earlier than lengthy, rock ’n’ roll emerged as a definite style, and Domino was to be its impossible star. His Ain’t Disgrace, which took him two months to put in writing, was a No 1 hit within the R&B chart, and would likely have bought even higher had there not been a canopy model by Pat Boone (a state of affairs which was to be the bane of many a black artist’s life, despite the fact that it’s invariably the unique model that’s remembered years later).
Even when singing of misplaced love, there was an irrepressible cheer to Domino’s performances, his sunny smile turning into one thing of a trademark.
That is obvious on one in every of his best possible, if much less well-known performances, Don’t Blame It On Me. His first pop hit was I’m in Love Once more.
The track with which he was to turn into indelibly related, Blueberry Hill, was one which Bartholomew had not been eager to document in any respect. Bartholomew was nonetheless not glad after a full day’s work on the track during which numerous takes had been have been spliced collectively. Chudd, nevertheless, determined to launch the track anyway, there being nothing else within the can. Sooner or later he was in a position to report that three million copies had been bought.
Blueberry Hill was adopted by Blue Monday and I’m Walkin’. On all of those Domino’s piano is to the fore, and it was solely years later that the explanation for this turned obvious: not solely was it tuned in order that the treble keys have been increased than traditional, however the recording was accelerated. Because the background to Blueberry Hill confirmed, the obvious spontaneity of those recordings was an phantasm: lots of the songs took longer than might need been essential to document, not least as a result of Domino was within the behavior of stopping throughout a great take to ask whether or not he was sounding all proper.
Within the early 1960s, Domino started to make use of strings on his information, first on Strolling to New Orleans, written by his buddy Bobby Charles; Charles had earlier written See You Later Alligator, which Domino had determined was not for him — solely to see Invoice Haley have an enormous hit with it.
Domino’s hits continued with a tremendous, honking model of Hank Williams’s Jambalaya, however he was not promoting as efficiently as he had up to now.
In the meantime, he and different R&B artists have been about to be dealt a blow by the arrival in America of a bunch a lot influenced by them, The Beatles.
Chudd, with a premonition of what was to return, had bought his label to Liberty, Domino already having moved to ABC, the primary of a number of labels on which he was by no means in a position to repeat his earlier success, though he remained in demand for his reside performances. There have been, nevertheless, some additional hits, notably I’m in Love Once more; I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Sometime (each coated by Paul McCartney in 1989) and Be My Visitor.
Fat Domino additionally appeared in a number of movies, the perfect of which was The Lady Can’t Assist It, with Jayne Mansfield.
Good-natured and uxorious, Domino was a preferred determine in New Orleans the place he lived in a big home in a predominantly working-clbad neighbourhood and have become famend for spontaneously cooking up huge pots of red-bean stew and alluring individuals in off the road to eat with him. He bought 40 million singles and three million albums inside a decade of starting to document and, within the 1980s — comfortably off because of royalties — he determined to retire.
When Hurricane Katrina struck town in 2005, he refused to go away, and there have been rumours that he had died within the floods. He and his household have been ultimately rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.
In 2007, he carried out to a full home at Tipitina’s in New Orleans, and was subsequently inducted into the Louisiana Music Corridor of Fame, the Delta Music Museum Corridor of Fame and the Hit Parade Corridor of Fame.
Requested whether or not he may think about making a grand comeback, he was sometimes evasive: “I simply drink my little beers, do some cookin’, something I really feel like.”