Fats Domino Dies: Rock & Roll's 'Blueberry Hill' Pioneer Was 89

Emmett Rice
October 29, 2017

New Orleans musician Fats Domino has died aged 89.

With a friendly smile and broken voice, Domino sold more than 110 million records and his hits included Blueberry Hill, Ain't That a Shame and Walking To New Orleans.

Domino had his first pop mainstream smash in 1955 with "Ain't It a Shame", though as was so often the case then a watered-down version by a white singer - in this case, Pat Boone, who changed the title to "Ain't That a Shame" - got more radio play.

Antoine "Fats" Domino was born in New Orleans LA, in the lower ninth ward on 26 February 1928. He was taught to the piano by his brother-in-law and began performing in music clubs and bars in the 1940s.

After an impressive string of singles in the 1950s, Domino continued to chart modestly in the 1960s, releasing songs including "Red Sails in the Sunset" and a cover of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna", a tribute that must have been satisfying to a band that was influenced by the rock pioneer and even reportedly wrote that song in Domino's style.

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In honor of his enormous influence to music, the portly piano-playing prodigy was honored with an induction into the Rock "n" Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.

The blues and rock n' roll musician wasn't one for interviews, but in 2006 he spoke to CBS News after Hurricane Katrina devastated his home city.

Also lost was his National Medal of Arts, presented by President Bill Clinton. Rolling Stone Magazine listed him as number 25 on their list of the '100 Greatest Artists of All Time'.

Domino outsold every rock and roll artist aside from Elvis Presley, but his fame was never enough to convince him to leave his home town of New Orleans, where he spent most of his life.

Blueberry Hill was a favourite of the Fats Domino protege.

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