Fats Domino

On February 26, 1928, Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr., was born in New Orleans into a very musically oriented family. At the age of nine, he began playing piano and, only a year later, was playing at the Hideaway Club where Bill Diamond nicknamed him Fats. Fats was so passionate about his music that he quit school at age 14 to work in a bedspring factory during the day and play bars at night. While Domino was a trumpeter for David Bartholomew's band in the 40's, Bartholomew set up a contract for him, becoming his producer. In 1949, Domino's first session titled "The Fat Man", sold a million copies and originated the idea of "New Orleans sound." In 1955, Domino had his actual big break when his song "Aint That a Shame" became popular with white teens. Not long after, the song was re-recorded by Pat Boone, making it number #1 on the charts. Due to the racial segregation era, Pat Boone’s cover thus received wider recognition with a song that he did not even write.

Fats Domino, a rhythm and blues singer, was one of the biggest stars of early rock and roll, with over three dozen top 40 hits throughout the 50s and 60s. Selling over 65 million records, second to Elvis Presley, Fats Domino is recognized as a powerful innovator of the early rock and roll era.

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Fats Domino performing on the stage

Why is Fats Domino important?

Domino was one of the biggest stars of rock and roll in the 1950s and one of the first R&B artists to gain popularity with white audiences. His biographer Rick Coleman argues that Domino's records and tours with rock-and-roll shows in that decade, bringing together black and white youths in a shared appreciation of his music, was a factor in the breakdown of racial segregation in the United States. 

Domino was also an important influence on the music of the 1960s and 1970s and was acknowledged as such by some of the top artists of that era. Elvis Presley introduced Fats at one of his Las Vegas concerts, saying, "This gentleman was a huge influence on me when I started out." Presley also made this comment in a 1957 interview:

"A lot of people seem to think I started this business. But rock ’n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that music like colored people. Let’s face it: I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that."

- Elvis Presley