Domino, Fats

Domino, Fats (Antoine Dominique Domino, Jr.), 1928–2017, American rhythm-and-blues singer, pianist, and songwriter of Creole descent, b. New Orleans, La. A largely self-taught musician, he began playing professionally in a Desire St. club band in his teens, which was when he was nicknamed Fats and when he adopted his signature 6/8 hammered triplets. In the 1950s and 60s he was one of the creators of rock music; his million-selling breakthrough hit, “The Fat Man” (1949), is regarded as one of the first rock-and-roll recordings. The genial Domino became one of the most popular early rock-and-roll stars and one of the top recording artists of the period, with 23 gold records; many of his hits became rock standards and were widely covered. Domino also played a role in breaking down America's musical color bar. Playing the piano in a vigorous boogie-woogie style, often with bass, guitar, drums, and saxophone accompaniment, he crossed over to the pop charts in 1955 with his recording of “Ain't That a Shame.” Other best-selling singles include his biggest hit, “Blueberry Hill” (1956), as well as “My Blue Heaven” (1956), “I'm Walkin'” (1957), “Blue Monday” (1957), “I Want to Walk You Home” (1959), “Walkin' to New Orleans” (1960), and his 1968 cover of the Beatles' “Lady Madonna,” his last Top 100 hit. He toured worldwide until the early 1980s, when, aside from festivals, he confined his performing almost exclusively to New Orleans. During his long career, he often worked and wrote with the bandleader and songwriter Dave Bartholomew. Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, was awarded a lifetime-achievement Grammy in 1987, and received the National Medal of Arts in 1999.

See R. Coleman, Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n' Roll (2007); J. Lauro, dir. The Big Beat: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll (documentary, 2016).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: Popular and Jazz: Biographies