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Remembering Antoine “Fats” Domino, A Rock ‘N’ Roll Pioneer

Antoine “Fats” Domino, the New Orleans-native and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer—whose unorthodox piano playing and charm made him one of the first R&B musicians to become a “household name—died early Tuesday, Oct. 24. According to The Associated Press, chief investigator Mark Bone of the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, coroner’s office confirmed Domino had died of natural causes. He was 89.

Born of Louisiana Creole descent, Domino was the youngest of eight children growing up in the lower Ninth Ward. He first learned to play the piano from his brother-in-law, Harrison Verrett, and by the time he was 14 was playing in bars across “The Big Easy.”

Domino was signed to Imperial Records in 1949, under which he recorded such legendary hit singles as “Ain’t That A Shame,” “Blueberry Hill,” “Blue Monday,” “I’m Walkin’” and several other classics that would define the “boogie woogie” craze.

His style and performance would pave the way for such legendary musicians as Elvis Presley, The Beatles and even one of early punk-rock’s innovators Richard Hell.

In total, Domino recorded more than 60 singles for Imperial—40 of which placed on the Top 10 R&B charts and 11 on the Top Pop charts—sticking with them until the label was sold in 1963. He went on to record with ABC-Paramount records in Nashville, Tenn., seeing only limited success throughout the 70s.

“Fats” was one of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. And, later that year, was awarded with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2006, Hurricane Katrina barreled across the Gulf Coast. During the storm, Domino stayed in his home because his wife, Rosemary, was in poor health. His home was heavily flooded and he needed to be airlifted out by Coast Guard helicopter, according to a story by NPR.

In the aftermath of the storm, he announced that he would be donating all of the proceeds from sales of his new album, Alive and Kickin’, to the Tipitina’s Foundation—named for the New Orleans music venue—which is dedicated to preserving and restoring the musical culture of the Crescent City.

He one of several beloved musicians in the City of New Orleans who have passed in recent years and will be remembered the world over for his influential sound and dedication to his craft. 


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