Birthday: February 26, 1928
Died At Age: 89
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Antoine Dominique Domino Jr.
Born in: New Orleans
Famous as: Pianist, Rock & Roll Musician
Height: 5'4" (163 cm), 5'4" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Rosemary Domino
father: Antoine Caliste Domino (1879–1964)
mother: Marie-Donatille Gros (1886–1971)
children: Adonica Domino, Anatole Domino, Andre Domino, Andrea Domino, Anola Domino, Antoine III Domino, Antoinette Domino, Antonio Domino
Died on: October 24, 2017
place of death: Harvey, Louisiana
U.S. State: Louisiana, African-American From Louisiana
City: New Orleans, Louisiana
Who was Fats Domino?
Antoine Dominique Domino Jr., popularly known as Fats Domino, was an American pianist, singer, and songwriter. A pioneering rock 'n' roll artist, his unique musical style has an immense impact on rock 'n' roll music in the 1950s. He became popular with his first release, ‘The Fat Man’, and later earned widespread prominence with singles like ‘Ain't That a Shame’ and ‘Blueberry Hill.’ Born in a musical family, he learnt to play the piano at seven, and by the time he was ten, he had begun performing as a singer and pianist. He started playing the piano for bandleader Billy Diamond, who gave him the nickname ‘Fats’. After signing with Imperial Records, he released ‘The Fat Man’, which he co-wrote with Dave Bartholomew. The single peaked at the second position on the R&B charts and created a record by becoming the first rock 'n' roll song to sell a million copies. He continued to churn out several hits with his distinctive style of piano playing and melodious voice. Despite his popularity, he faced racial discrimination on several occasions. After he started experiencing health problems in 1995, he stopped touring and attended local events only. Later on, he also stopped recording and preferred to live off the royalties from his earlier recordings.
Childhood & Early Life
Antoine Domino Jr was born on February 26, 1928, to Antoine Caliste Domino and Marie-Donatille Gros. His father worked as part-time violinist at a racetrack. He had seven siblings, all older to him. He grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was of French Creole descent.
He initially attended the Louis B. Macarty School but dropped out after the fourth grade. He did a number of odd jobs to earn money.
When he was a young boy, his brother-in-law Harrison Verret taught him to play the piano and introduced him to the New Orleans music scene. Fats Domino started performing as a singer and pianist at the age of ten, and when he was 14, he started performing in bars.
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In 1949, Fats Domino signed a contract with Imperial Records and was paid based on the sales of records. He co-wrote his first song ‘The Fat Man’ with producer Dave Bartholomew. The song was an immediate hit. Motivated by the success, he released several more hit songs with Bartholomew.
His first pop ‘Ain't That a Shame’ reached the Top Ten Billboard pop singles chart in July 1955. The cover version of the song by Pat Boone reached number 1. In his career, he had 37 Top 40 singles, but none could make it to the top of the Pop chart. By that time he also started earning $10,000 a week.
In November 1955, his debut album ‘Carry On Rockin’ was released; it included his hit songs and some tracks that were not yet released as singles. The album was reissued as ‘Rock and Rollin' with Fats Domino’ in 1956 and reached No. 17 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. In 1956, his recording of ‘Blueberry Hill’ became a smashing hit.
Between 1956 and 1959, he had several hit singles including ‘I'm Walkin’, which reached No. 4 on the pop chart, ‘Valley of Tears’ and ‘I Want to Walk You Home’, both of which reached No. 8, ‘It's You I Love’ and ‘Whole Lotta Loving’, both of which reached No. 6, and ‘Be My Guest’, which reached No. 8 on the pop chart.
In 1956, he was cast in two films—‘Shake, Rattle & Rock!’ and ‘The Girl Can't Help It’. His hit song, ‘The Big Beat,’ was included in Dick Clark's 1957 film, ‘American Bandstand’.
In 1963, when Imperial Records was sold, Fats Domino left the label. He had recorded over 60 singles for the label, of which, 40 songs had reached the Top 10 in the R&B chart.
He signed with ABC-Paramount Records in 1963. During his tenure with the label, he released 11 singles—although several were included in the Top 100 list, only one (‘Red Sails in the Sunset’) entered the Top 40 list.
By the end of 1964, the trend in the music industry had changed, and Domino's popularity started dipping. In 1965, he left ABC-Paramount and signed with Mercury Records. Despite his reduced chart success, he continued recording and released an album and two singles under Mercury Records.
His album, ‘Christmas is a Special Day’, was released in 1993. While touring Europe in 1995, he fell ill and decided not to go on any further tours. After that, he only attended events and concerts in New Orleans. He also decided to stop recording new songs and lived off his royalty payments.
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In 2006, he released an album ‘Alive and Kickin', which was a compilation of his unreleased recordings from the 1990s. The album, which was released to support Tipitina's Foundation, was critically applauded.
Fats Domino’s song ‘Ain't That a Shame’ peaked at No.1 on the Billboard R&B chart. It eventually sold a million copies and was later included in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.
His song ‘Blueberry Hill’, which sold more than 5 million copies worldwide, reached the No. 1 spot on the R&B chart and remained there for 11 weeks. It also reached the No. 2 position on the Billboard Juke Box chart and stayed there for two weeks.
Awards & Achievements
In 1986, Fats Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following year, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1995, he obtained the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Ray Charles Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1998, he received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton. However, he refused to perform at the White House. Later, President George W. Bush personally visited him and replaced the National Medal of Arts.
In 2004, the Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 25th on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time’’.
In 2007, ‘OffBeat’ magazine honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. That year, he was also inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame in Ferriday, Louisiana.
In 2015, the song ‘The Fat Man’ entered the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Fats Domino married Rosemary Hall in 1947 and the couple was happily married until her death in 2008. They had eight children. Even after his commercial success, he lived in his old neighborhood for a long time.
As Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, he chose to stay in his house with his family as his wife was very ill. His house was heavily flooded and he was rumored to have died in the hurricane. Someone even wrote the message ‘RIP Fats’ on the walls of his house, and his house was vandalized. However, the rumors were unfounded as a Coast Guard helicopter had rescued him and his family. In January 2006, his home was renovated.
During his career, four major riots occurred at his concerts—one was on November 2, 1956, at the concert in Fayetteville, North Carolina. While police used tear gas to control the unruly crowd, Domino had to jump out of a window and was slightly injured.
He died from natural causes on October 24, 2017, at his home in Harvey, Louisiana. He was 89.