Singer, Songwriter, Musician
Antoine "Fats" Domino, Jr. is an American pianist and singer-songwriter of French Creole descent.
Fats Domino was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Domino family was of French Creole background. Louisiana Creole French was his first language. Antoine was born at home with the assistance of his grandmother, a midwife. His name was initially given as Anthony on his birth certificate but was later corrected. His family had newly arrived in the Lower Ninth Ward from Vacherie, Louisiana. His father was a well-known violinist.
Domino learned to play the piano from his brother-in-law, the jazz guitarist Harrison Verrett.
Even after his success, he continued to live in his old neighborhood. His large home was roomy enough for his 13 children, but he still preferred to sleep in a hammock outside.
Domino attracted national attention with his first recording, “The Fat Man“, made in late 1949 for Imperial Records, an early rock-and-roll record featuring a rolling piano and Domino vocalizing “wah-wah” over a strong backbeat. “The Fat Man” sold one million copies by 1953; it is widely considered the first rock-and-roll record to achieve this feat. Domino released a series of hit songs with the producer Dave Bartholomew (also the co-writer of many of the songs), the saxophonists Herbert Hardesty and Alvin “Red” Tyler, the bassist Frank Fields, and the drummers Earl Palmer and Smokey Johnson. Other notable and long-standing musicians in Domino’s band were the saxophonists Reggie Houston, Lee Allen, and Fred Kemp, Domino’s trusted bandleader. Domino crossed into the pop mainstream with “Ain’t That a Shame” (1955), which reached the Top Ten. Pat Boone‘s milder cover version reached number 1, having received wider radio airplay in a racially segregated era. Domino eventually had 37 Top 40 singles.
Domino’s debut album, Carry On Rockin, containing several of his hits and tracks that had not yet been released as singles, was issued under the Imperial imprint (catalogue number 9009) in November 1955 and was reissued as Rock and Rollin’ with Fats Domino in 1956. The reissue reached number 17 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.
His 1956 recording of “Blueberry Hill“, a 1940 song by Vincent Rose, Al Lewis and Larry Stock (which had previously been recorded by Gene Autry, Louis Armstrong and others), reached number 2 in the Top 40 and was number 1 on the R&B chart for 11 weeks. It was his biggest hit. “Blueberry Hill” sold more than 5 million copies worldwide in 1956 and 1957. Domino had further hit singles between 1956 and 1959, including “When My Dreamboat Comes Home” (Pop number 14), “I’m Walkin’” (Pop number 4), “Valley of Tears” (Pop number 8), “It’s You I Love” (Pop number 6), “Whole Lotta Loving” (Pop number 6), “I Want to Walk You Home” (Pop number 8), and “Be My Guest” (Pop number 8).
Domino appeared in two films released in 1956: Shake, Rattle & Rock! and The Girl Can’t Help It. On December 18, 1957, his hit recording of “The Big Beat” was featured on Dick Clark‘s television program, American Bandstand.op chart. Twenty-two of Domino’s Imperial singles were double-sided hits.