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In the Fifties with a rockin' piano
Fats Domino came
out of New Orleans to become one of rock-and-roll's earliest and best
stars. With 65 million record sales to his credit, Fats out sold every
Fifties rock and and roll pioneer except Elvis Presley.
Fats was born Antoine Domino in 1928 in New Orleans. As a child his brother-in-law, who was twenty years his senior, taught him to play the piano. Fats, also sang.. The first language he learned to speak was French. He first performed in public at age 10. At fourteen he left school and worked days in a factory so he could perform at local nightclubs. He continued with music into the 40's and was heard by Dave Bartholomew, who would become his writing partner on many of Fats' hit songs. Fats joined the Dave Bartholomew Band in the mid-40's. He was influenced by Albert Ammons and Fats Waller, among others.
He signed a contract with Imperial in 1949 and at his first recording session he made sure that he recorded the traditional Hey La Bas. "La Bas" was originally a voodoo god of luck, was identified with St. Peter in French-Catholic Louisiana and finally became La Bas. The record indicated a coming together of many years of New Orleans history and musical influence. It was not, however, his first record to be released. A song about drugs called The Fat Man was cleaned up a bit for his first commercial release, and it reached the R&B chart in 1950. According to some reports, the song was a million seller. The Fat Man also became a nickname for Fats Domino. Another song that made the R&B chart for him, Every Night About This Time, used a piano triplet for which Fats was to become famous. It showed how his music had been influenced by that of Little Willie Littlefield. Fats had another R&B hit with "Goin' Home" in 1952.
Fats Domino exploded onto the rock-and-roll scene in 1955 when his song, "Ain't That A Shame," was covered by white recording artist Pat Boone. Boone's version went to number one, and Domino's version on Imperial went to number ten. The song established both artists as stars. Fats could be heard in the background on the records of other artists, such as Joe Turner and Lloyd Price. He continued to write songs with Dave Bartholomew, many of which became hits. In 1956 he put five songs in the top forty, including "I'm In Love Again" and Fats' rendition of a song that had reached number one for Glenn Miller in 1940, "Blueberry Hill". The latter went to number two and was Domino's highest charting record ever.