Biography

Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. (born February 26, 1928) is an American rhythm and blues and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter. Domino released five gold (million-copy-selling) records before 1955. He also had 35 Top 40 American hits and has a music style based on traditional rhythm and blues ensembles of bass, piano, electric guitar, drums, and saxophone.

Screen shot 2016-04-24 at 2.27.59 PMDomino first attracted national attention with “The Fat Man” in 1950 on Imperial Records. This song is an early rock and roll record, featuring a rolling piano and Domino doing “wah-wah” vocalizing over a strong back beat. “The Fat Man” sold one million copies by 1953. Fats Domino released a series of hit songs with producer and co-writer Dave Bartholomew, saxophonists Herbert Hardesty and Alvin “Red” Tyler and drummers Earl Palmer and Smokey Johnson. Other notable and long-standing musicians in Domino’s band were saxophonists Reggie Houston, Lee Allen, and Fred Kemp, Domino’s trusted bandleader. Domino finally crossed into the pop mainstream with “Ain’t That A Shame” (1955), which hit the Top Ten. Domino eventually had 37 Top 40 singles.

His 1956 version of “Blueberry Hill” reached No. 2 in the Top 40, was No. 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 No. 14), “I’m Walkin'” (Pop No. 4), “Valley of Tears” (Pop No. 8), “It’s You I Love” (Pop No. 6), “Whole Lotta Loving” (Pop No. 6), “I Want to Walk You Home” (Pop No. 8), and “Be My Guest” (Pop No. 8).

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

Domino continued to have a steady series of hits for Imperial through early 1962, including “Walkin’ to New Orleans” (1960, Pop No. 6), co-written by Bobby Charles, and “My Girl Josephine” (Pop No. 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.