R&B pianist, New Orleans-native Fats Domino, who’s hits include “Ain’t That Shame” and “Blueberry Hill”, has died at age 89.
Domino, who lived his entire live in New Orleans, was born in 1928 as one of nine siblings. After leaving school at age 14 to work at a bedspring factory he learned the piano due to his cousin leaving an upright in his family home.
As his name suggests, he was not coy about his 200+ pound frame where, in his first recorded song “The Fat Man” (1949) he stated “all the girls, they love me, ’cause I know my way around”. His flattened, gelled hair along with his robust frame created a distinctive style. Eventually he became one of the very first black performers on pop music television shows.
Towards the mid-60s his popularity began to dwindle as musical tastes changed to more of a guitar-centric rock ‘n’ roll sound. However, “I refused to change,” he had once said. “I had to stick to my own style that I’ve always used or it just wouldn’t be me.”
Domino was also one of the very first inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1998, the first rock ‘n’ roll musician to be awarded National Medal for the Arts.
Having lived in New Orleans for his entire life he was badly affected by Hurricane Katrina, having to be rescued by boat along with his family. However, he still continued to perform locally up until 2007.
He and his wife Rosemary, who passed in 2008, raised 8 children together.