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L E’s Stories – “Sock Hop Dancing With The Fat Man” – Salute To Fats Domino

It was a Friday night in October of 1962, when as a freshman, Bone Daddy went to his first ever Midland High School “Sock Hop”….where the band playing that night was Fats Domino & His Orchestra….who was a well known, and loved, rock n role and rhythm + blues piano player already famous for such songs  “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill”…..plus, it was also his 1st date with an older girl named Lisa Vick….who was blond hair and blue eyed sophomore….as Lisa was his “heart throb” all through Jr High School before attending Midland High.  BD recalls how excited he was to be having a date with this West Texas beauty….while taking her to the High School “Sock Hop” dictated that he buy a brand new purple satin shirt and a brand new pair of white “stove top” socks in order to flash while “cutting a rug” with Lisa to the one and only Fats Domino.  So, any way you cut the pie….this story holds some special memories of great fun had at BD’s 1st live band performance with the “cute as a bug” older girl who had caught his eye way back in Jr High….and of them dancing the night away to the awesome music of “The Fat Man”, Fats Domino and his orchestra.                                                                                                                                   

Music – 1986 – Live At Storyville – Fats Domino & Friends – With Ray Charles + Jerry Lee Lewis + Ron Woods Et Al

                                                                                                                                                                        Fats Domino (February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017) was an American pianist and singer-songwriter….who was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music….when Domino sold more than 65 million records…..with  eleven Top 10 hits between 1955 and 1960. His humility and shyness may be one reason his contribution to the genre has been overlooked.  During his career, Domino had 35 records in the U.S. Billboard Top 40, and five of his pre-1955 records sold more than a million copies, being certified gold.  His musical style was based on traditional rhythm and blues, accompanied by saxophones, bass, piano, electric guitar, and drums.  His 1949 release “The Fat Man” is widely regarded as the first million-selling rock and roll record…which featured two of his most famous songs, “Ain’t That A Shame” and “Blueberry Hill”.                      

Music – 2005 – Black History Everyday Special – The Life and Times Of Fats Domino

 

By age 14, Domino was performing in New Orleans bars….when in 1947, Billy Diamond, a New Orleans bandleader, accepted an invitation to hear the young pianist perform at a backyard barbecue…..wherein Domino played well enough that Diamond asked him to join his band, The Solid Senders, at the Hideaway Club in New Orleans….where he would earn $3 a week playing the piano…..as Diamond was the one who nicknamed him “Fats”, because Domino reminded him of the renowned pianists Fats Waller and Fats Pichon….but also because of his large appetite.                                                                                                          

Music – 1978 – Fats Domino Live In Concert – “Blueberry Hill”

 

Domino was signed to the Imperial Records label in 1949 by owner Lew Chudd….and was to be paid royalties based on sales instead of a fee for  each song….as he and producer Dave Bartholomew wrote The Fat Man”…..which was a toned down version of a song about drug addicts called Junker Blues”….as the record sold a million copies by 1951….while the song featured a rolling piano while Domino was vocalizingwah-wah” over a strong backbeat.  “The Fat Man” is widely considered the 1st rock -and-roll record to achieve this level of sales….while the song would enter the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015.  As seen in the video below….Dave Bartholomew plays the “wah-wah” on the trumpet…..which Fats sang in the original recording.                                                                                                                               

Music – 1978 – Fats Domino Live In Concert – “The Fat Man”

 

Domino released a series of hit songs with Bartholomew, the saxophonists Herbert Hardesty and Alvin “Red” Tyler, the bassist Billy Diamond and later Frank Fields, and the drummers Earl Palmer and Smokey Johnson…..while other notable and long-standing musicians in Domino’s band were the saxophonists  Reggie Houston, Lee Allen and Fred Kemp, Domino’s trusted bandleader…..while Domino’s own recordings were done for Imperial, he sometimes sat in during that time as a session musician on recordings by other artists for other record labels.  Domino’s rolling piano triplets provided the memorable instrumental introduction for Lloyd Price’s first hit, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, recorded for Specialty Records in 1952 at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studios in New Orleans….where Domino himself had earlier recorded “The Fat Man” and other songs…..as Dave Bartholomew was also producing Price’s record….which also featured familiar Domino collaborators Hardesty, Fields and Palmer as sidemen….and he asked Domino to play the piano part, replacing the original session pianist.                                                             

Music – 1986 – Austin City Limits – Featuring Fats Domino Live On Stage

                                                                                                                                                                            Domino crossed into the pop mainstream with “Ain’t That a Shame”….which reached the Top Ten….and  was the first of his records to appear on the Billboard pop singles chart in July of 1955…..with the debut at # 14…..whereas a milder cover version by Pat Boone reached # 1….while having received wider radio airplay in an era of racial segregation. In 1955, Domino was said to be earning $10,000 a week while touring….which was according to a report in the memoir of artist Chuck Berry…..as Domino eventually had 37 Top 40 singles….but none made it to # 1 on the Pop chart.  Domino’s debut album contained several of his recent hits and earlier blues tracks that had not been released as singles….and was issued on the Imperial label (catalogue number 9009) in November 1955….which was reissued as Rock and Rollin’ with Fats Domino….as this reissue reached # 17 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.                                  

Music – 1955 – Original Version – Fats Domino – “Ain’t That A Shame”

 

His 1956 recording of “Blueberry Hill”, a 1940 song by Vincent Rose, Al Lewis and Larry Stock….which had previously been recorded by Gene Autry, Louis Armstrong and others…..had reached # 2 on the Billboard Juke Box chart for two weeks….while being # 1 on the R&B chart for 11 weeks…..and was his biggest hit, selling more than 5 million copies worldwide in 1956 and 1957…..as the song was subsequently recorded by Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Led Zeppelin…..while some 32 years later, the song would enter the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Domino had further hit singles between 1956 and 1959…. with “When My Dreamboat Comes Home” at Pop # 14….“I’m Walkin'” at Pop # 4….“Valley of Tears” at Pop # 8…. “It’s You I Love” at Pop # 6….“Whole Lotta Lovin'” at Pop # 6….“I Want to Walk You Home” at Pop # 8…..and “Be My Guest” at Pop # 8.

 

Music – 1987 – North Sea Jazz Concert – Fats Domino Rhythm Blues Explosion Performs “I’m Walkin'”

 

Domino appeared in two films released in 1956….Shake, Rattle & Rock! and The Girl Can’t Help It…..then in December of 1957, his hit recording of “The Big Beat” was featured on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand…..and he was also featured in a movie of the same name.                                                                          

Music – 1957 – Movie Excerpt – Fats Domino – “The Big Beat” + “I’m Walking”

 

 In November 1957, Domino appeared on the Ed Sullivan TV program…..and in the same year, the article “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in Ebony magazine featured Domino who said he was on the road 340 days a year….while earning up to $2,500 per evening….and grossing over $500,000….as Domino also told readers that he owned 50 suits, 100 pairs of shoes and a $1,500 diamond horseshoe stick pin.  Domino had a steady series of hits for Imperial through early 1962….which included “Walking’ to New Orleans” in 1960 at Pop # 6….and “My Girl Josephine” at Pop # 14 in the same year.  He toured Europe in 1962 and met the Beatles….who would later cite Domino as an inspiration.  After returning, he played the first of his many stands in Las Vegas.                                                                                                                                                     

Music – 1965 – Fats Domino & Elvis Presley Sing Duets – “Blueberry Hill” + “Love Me”

Imperial Records was sold in early 1963….and Domino left the label…..”I stuck with them until they sold out,” he said in 1979…..and in all, he recorded over 60 singles for Imperial….while placing 40 songs in the top 10 on the R&B chart….as well as 11 songs in the top 10 on the Pop chart…of which 27 were double-sided hits. Domino moved to ABC-Paramount Records in 1963….as the label dictated that he record in Nashville, Tennessee rather than New Orleans…..plus he was assigned a new producer, Felton Jarvis…..and a new manager, Bill Justis….and Domino’s longtime collaboration with producer, arranger and frequent co-writer, Dave Bartholomew….who oversaw virtually all of the Imperial hits….was seemingly at an end…..when Jarvis and Justis changed Fats sound by adding the backing of a country politan-style vocal chorus to most of his new recordings…..as he released 11 singles for ABC-Paramount….of which several hit the Top 100…..but just one entered the Top 40 with “Red Sails in the Sunset” in 1963.                               

Music – 1968 – Fats Domino – “Red Sails In The Sunset”

                                                                                                                                                                                      By the end of 1964, the British Invasion had changed the tastes of the record buying public….and Domino’s chart run was over.  Despite the lack of chart success, Domino continued to record steadily until about 1970…. after leaving ABC-Paramount in mid-1965….and recording for Mercury Records….where he delivered a live album and two singles….and that is when  Dave Bartholomew’s small Broadmoor label reunited with Domino….which featured many contemporary Soul infused sides….and a few single releases….but an album was not released overseas until 1971 to fulfill his Reprise Records contract…..where he had shifted to Broadmoor….and had a Top 100 single….which was a cover of the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna”.                                                                                                                                     

Music – 1966 – Fats Domino – “Lady Madonna”

 

Domino appeared in the Monkees’ television special 33⅓ Revolutions per Monkee in 1969…..then in 1971, he opened for Ike & Tina Turner at Carnegie Hall…..as he continued to be popular as a live performer for several decades. He made a cameo appearance in Clint Eastwood’s movie Any Which Way You Can, filmed released in 1980….while singing the country song “Whiskey Heaven”….which later became a minor hit.  His life and career were showcased in Joe Lauro’s 2015 documentary The Big Beat: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  In 1986 Domino was one of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame….and he also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987….and his last album for a major label was “Christmas Is A Special Day” was released in 1993.  Fats Domino lived in a mansion in a predominantly working-class neighborhood in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans…. where he was a familiar sight in his bright pink Cadillac automobile…..as he made yearly appearances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and other local events.                                                                        

Music – 1957 – Fats Domino Live – Singing “Blue Monday”

                                                                                                                                                                                  His last tour was in Europe, for three weeks in 1995.  After being ill while on tour, Domino decided he would no longer leave the New Orleans area….while having a comfortable income from royalty payments….and a dislike of touring….while claiming that he could not get any food that he liked anywhere else.  In the same year, he received the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Ray Charles Lifetime Achievement Award.  In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts. Domino declined an invitation to perform at the White House.  In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 25 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in an essay written by Dr. John.                                                                 

Music – 1969 – Fats Domino Live – “I’m Walking To New Orleans”

 

As evidenced by the videos seen herewith….and while considering that our connection here at ImaSportsphile goes back some 58 years to our Bone Daddy taking his high school sweetheart to listen and dance to Fats Domino in 1962 at his 1st “Sock Hop”….certainly qualifies The Fat Man for his salute in our video museum….cuz Fats Domino’s story is worthy of his musical genius….and our Bone Daddy will always remember that night with Lisa Vick….as they did some serious “butt rockin” to one of the godfathers of rock and roll.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 News & Music – October 25, 2017 – 4WWL Eye Witness News At Noon Report – The Death Of Fats Domino

 

 

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