Rock n’ roll has lost a pioneer who had more hits than Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly.
Antoine “Fats” Domino passed away in New Orleans on Wednesday (Oct. 25) at the age of 89. His signature boogie-woogie piano sound brought some New Orleans signature jazz and R&B flair early rock in the early 1950s. His big ones were Ain’t That a Shame, Blueberry Hill and I’m Walkin’.
Fats reportedly sold more records than any other ’50s-era rockers outside of Elvis. Five of his records released before 1955 sold over a million copies and were certified as gold records, and he had 35 records in the U.S. Billboard Top 40.
His hits became rock standards, covered by Cheap Trick, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin (in concert), and John Lennon. Here’s a link to some covers over the years.
Lennon, who remade Ain’t That a Shame (first called Ain’t It a Shame on Domino’s recording) on his 1975 Rock & Roll album, said it was the first tune he ever learned to play. “It was the first song I could accompany myself on,” he said in 1975. “It has a lot of memories for me.”
One of Domino’s last charting singles was a 1968 cover of the Beatles’ Lady Madonna, a song that was influenced by his percussion piano playing.
The singer was still touring worldwide into the early 1990s, but mostly stayed in New Orleans after a health scare took him off the road in 1991. He was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 alongside Elvis, James Brown, Little Richard and Chuck Berry.
He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.