Louisiana Creole pianist and songwriter Fats Domino has passed away, aged 89.
Born the eighth of eight children in New Orleans in 1928, Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jr. learned to play the piano as a teen from his brother-in-law, jazz guitarist Harrison Verrett, and by age 14 was playing in New Orleans jazz bars. At age 19 he was nicknamed “Fats” by his first bandleader Billy Diamond; the name came not only from the musician’s big appetite, but also because he reminded Diamond of iconic pianists Fats Waller and Fats Pichon.
His first solo single The Fat Man (1953) sold over a million records – it’s considered the first ever rock ‘n’ roll record to achieve the hallmark.
As his career progressed throughout the ‘50s, Domino’s shows often saw black and white fans together (unheard of at the time). By the end of the decade he’d sold more rock ‘n’ roll records than any other artist, save for Elvis Presley.
In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck his hometown, Domino elected to stay at his house, partly because his wife Rosemary (with whom he had 13 children) was ill. He was feared dead, but it was soon revealed he’d escaped with his life although all his possessions were destroyed. Then-President George W. Bush personally visited Domino’s home and replaced the National Medal of Arts that President Bill Clinton had previously awarded the musician; his gold records were also replaced.
Domino received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1987), and was one of the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986). He died in his home of natural causes on October 24, 2017. Vale Fats Domino.