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Fats Domino

 

Fats DominoFats Domino left an uncontested mark on rock 'n roll.  Although most of his work was during the 50s, his music is still being played and performed over 50 years ago.  As a 50s rock 'n roller and blues singer he sold over 65 million records to date and outsold every 50s rock 'n roll peformer with exception to Elvis.

His first signed contract was with Imperial records in 1949.  Domino drew national attention with his song "The Fat Man" featuring a rolling piano and a "wah wah" vocalizing ove a strong back beat.

Fats Domino crossed over to the main stream in 1955 with his recording of "Ain't That A Shame." His 1956 up-tempo version of the 1940 Vincent Rose, Al Lewis & Larry Stock song, "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. The song had earlier been recorded by Gene Autry, and Louis Armstrong among many others. He had further hit singles between 1956 and 1959, including "When My Dreamboat Comes Home" (Pop #14), "I'm Walkin'" (Pop #4), "Valley of Tears" (Pop #8), "It's You I Love" (Pop #6), "Whole Lotta Loving" (Pop #6), "I Want to Walk You Home" (Pop #8), and "Be My Guest" (Pop #8).

Domino appeared in two films released in 1956: "Shake, Rattle & Rock!"  and "The Girl Can't Help It."  On December 18, 1957, Domino's hit "The Big Beat" was featured on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

Enjoy this classic video of Fats Domino performing with Ricky Nelson

 

Domino continued to have a steady series of hits for Imperial through early 1962, including "Walkin' to New Orleans" (1960) (Pop #6), co-written by Bobby Charles, and "My Girl Josephine" (Pop #14) from the same year. After Imperial Records was sold to outside interests in early 1963, Domino left the label: "I stuck with them until they sold out", he claimed in 1979. In all, 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 would record in Nashville rather than New Orleans. He was assigned a new producer (Felton Jarvis) and a new arranger (Bill Justis); Domino's long-term collaboration with producer/arranger/frequent co-writer Dave Bartholomew, who oversaw virtually all of his Imperial hits, was seemingly at an end.

Jarvis and Justis changed the Domino sound somewhat, notably by adding the backing of a countrypolitan-style vocal chorus to most of his new recordings. Perhaps as a result of this tinkering with an established formula, Domino's chart career was drastically curtailed. He released 11 singles for ABC-Paramount, but only had one top 40 entry with "Red Sails In The Sunset" (1963). By the end of 1964 the British Invasion had changed the tastes of the record-buying public, and Domino's 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: Mercury, Dave Bartholomew's small Broadmoor label (reuniting with Bartholomew along the way), and Reprise. 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 an exception to this policy.

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