By: Evette Champion
Fats Domino was a huge rocker during the 1950s and 60s, his musical achievements and record sales were so astonishing they were rivaled only by The King, Elvis Presley. He combined blues, rhythm & blues and jazz into how he played the piano and became one of the pioneers for the musical genre, Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Just recently, PBS’ “American Masters” aired a documentary on Fats Domino called “Fats Domino and The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll” during black history month. You can watch the full documentary here on PBS.org.
If you don’t have the time to watch the hour-long documentary, here are 10 facts about Fats Domino to sate your appetite for real classic rock ‘n’ roll pioneers.
- Antione “Fats” Domino Jr. was born on February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana and was one of nine children born into the musical family.
- He learned how to play the piano by the time he was 7 years old and was introduced to the music scene in New Orleans by the he was 10 years old. At the ripe old age of 14, he was performing as both singer and a pianist.
- He dropped out of high school to start working odd jobs such as factory work and hauling ice. He took gigs playing music for mere pennies just to gain exposure.
- In 1946, he began playing piano for a well-known New Orleans bass player, Billy Diamond. Because of his musical talent, Fats was quickly drawing large crowds on his own.
- In 1949, he met with Dave Bartholomew and was signed to Imperial Records.
- Domino’s first record, The Fat Man, was co-written by Bartholomew and was the first rock ‘n’ roll song to have ever sold over a million copies.
- Domino had five top 40 hits in 1956, which included a cover of Glenn Miller’s “Blueberry Hill.”
- Not only was Domino a talented musician, but he also appeared in two films, Shake, Rattle & Rock and The Girl Can’t Help It.
- Fats Domino recorded 37 Top 40 hits for Imperial Records before he decided to leave, later stating: “I stuck with them until they sold out.” He then joined ABC-Paramount Records.
- He was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, although he refused to attend the ceremony, as well as turning down the opportunity to perform at the White House.
Today, Antione “Fats” Domino enjoys a quiet life while still residing in New Orleans. Whether you are a long-time fan or are just becoming familiar with his music, you can’t deny that he was incredibly talented and the music just strikes a chord within us that modern music rarely can do.