Feb. 26: "Fats" Domino is 83 today.

Did you know?

Fats was an important influence on the music of the 1960s and 1970s and acknowledged as such by some of the top artists of that era. Paul McCartney reportedly wrote the Beatles song "Lady Madonna" in an emulation of Domino's style.

Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino Jr. was born and raised in Vacherie, Louisiana. He first hit the music scene with "The Fat Man" in 1949 on Imperial Records. This early rock and roll record, featured a rolling piano and Domino doing "wah-wah" vocalizing over a strong back beat. It sold over a million copies and is widely regarded as the first million selling rock and roll record.

Fats released a series of hit songs with producer and co-writer Dave Bartholomew and Fred Kemp, Domino's trusted bandleader.

Domino crossed into the pop mainstream in 1955 with "Ain't That a Shame," which hit the Top Ten, though Pat Boone characteristically hit #1 with a milder cover of the song that received wider radio airplay in a racially-segregated era. Domino eventually had 37 Top 40 singles.

Domino's first album, Carry on Rockin', was released in November 1955 and subsequently reissued as Rock and Rollin' with Fats Domino in 1956. The album reached #17 on the "Pop Albums" chart.

His 1956 up-tempo version of "Blueberry Hill" reached #2 in the Top 40, was #1 on the R&B charts for 11 weeks, and was his biggest hit. "Blueberry Hill" sold more than 5 million copies worldwide in 1956-57.

He had further hit singles between 1956 and 1959, including "When My Dreamboat Comes Home," "I'm Walkin'," "Valley of Tears," "It's You I Love," "Whole Lotta Loving," "I Want to Walk You Home" and "Be My Guest."

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Fats Domino Jukebox: 20 Greatest Hits


Domino continued to have a steady series of hits through early 1962, including "Walkin' to New Orleans" in 1960.

After Imperial Records was sold in early 1963, Domino left the label. Domino recorded over 60 singles for the label, placing 40 songs in the top 10 on the R&B charts, and scoring 11 top 10 singles on the pop charts. Twenty-two of Domino's Imperial singles were double-sided hits.

Domino moved to ABC-Paramount Records in 1963. The label dictated that he record in Nashville rather than New Orleans. He was assigned a new producer and a new arranger. Domino's long-term collaboration with co-writer Dave Bartholomew, who oversaw virtually all of his Imperial hits, was seemingly at an end.

The new production team altered Domino's sound, most notably by adding the backing of a vocal chorus to his records. He released 11 singles for ABC-Paramount, but only had one top 40 song, "Red Sails In The Sunset" in 1963.  Due to the "British Invasion," by the end of 1964 chart run was over.

Despite the lack of chart success, Domino continued to record steadily until about 1970, leaving ABC-Paramount in mid-1965 and recording for a variety of other labels. He also continued as a popular live act for several decades.

In the 1980s, Domino decided he would no longer leave New Orleans, having a comfortable income from royalties and a dislike for touring, and claiming he could not get any food that he liked any place else. His induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an invitation to perform at the White House failed to persuade Domino to make exceptions.

Domino lived in a mansion in a predominantly working-class Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, where he was a familiar sight in his bright pink Cadillac automobile. He makes yearly appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and other local events.

Domino was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. In 1998, President Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him #25 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."

When Hurricane Katrina was approaching New Orleans in August 2005, chose to stay at home with his family, partly because of his wife's poor health. His house was in an area that was heavily flooded.

Someone thought Domino was dead, and spray-painted a message on his home, "RIP Fats. You will be missed," which was shown in news photos. On September 1, Domino's agent, Al Embry, announced that he had not heard from the musician since before the hurricane had struck.

Later that day, CNN reported that Domino was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. The Domino family was then taken to a Baton Rouge shelter, after which they were picked up by JaMarcus Russell, the starting quarterback of the Louisiana State University football team, and Fats' granddaughter's boyfriend.