I do music over at my place. Too often in 2017, that makes me an obituary writer. This past week my humble blog, along with the rest of our world, noted the passing of a rock and roll giant, Fats Domino, born Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. (February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017). May his great soul rest in peace.
I’m a big music lover but unfortunately not the most informed one. If you asked me who sang “Blueberry Hill” before October 24th, I wouldn’t have known, exactly. I even used to get Fats Domino mixed up with Bo Diddly and the jazz giant Fats Waller (who I used to hear as a kid on my pop’s old 78 records). Rock and roll aficionados can snort in contempt, but let me try to catch up nevertheless.
Fats gave us such immortal hits as “Ain’t That a Shame,” “The Fat Man,” which was the first rock and roll song to go gold, and, yes, “Blueberry Hill.” It’s no overstatement to say that Fats Domino kicked off the rock ‘n roll revolution. But Fats, noted for his shyness and humility, never identified his music as rock and roll and said of it, “It wasn’t anything but the same rhythm and blues I’d been playin’ down in New Orleans.”
The only 50s rock and roller to sell more records was Elvis Presley, who often expressed his immense debt to the man, as have most of the rock and roll greats. Like Chuck Berry (whom we also lost in 2017), the genre would simply not be what it is without Fats. And no early sixties nostalgia flick would be complete without one of his tunes.
Wikipedia tells us that Antoine was born into a French Creole background, and Louisiana Creole was his first language. Through his years of fame he remained attached to and embedded in the neighborhood he grew up in, the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Fats finally had to resettle in a New Orleans suburb after Hurricane Katrina. With his wife of over sixty years (who passed away in 2008) they had eight children.
Fats had a lot of music in the family. Antoine Dominique senior was a violinist, and his jazz guitarist brother-in-law taught Fats piano. When he got into playing music professionally he was given the name “Fats” after the example of Fats Waller (see above) and Fats Pichon. Also because of his voracious eating habits.
This is the funny name place, so I’ll say two things that surprised me about Fats’ name. I didn’t expect the Domino to be real, and the full name is very sonorous. Antoine Dominique Domino Jr.
That is a rockin’ name, in every sense.
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