NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Legendary New Orleans musician Antoine "Fats" Domino has passed away, according to the Jefferson Parish coroner. Domino, who was born in the 9th Ward on Feb. 26, 1928, was 89 years old.
Domino cranked out 25 gold singles and sold 65 million records over his 50-year career.
The singer songwriter was one of the architects of Rock and Roll along with bandleader and trumpet player Dave Bartholomew. The two teamed up in 1949 and wrote "The Fat Man", which became a million seller and some historians say may be the first Rock and Roll song. From there the duo went on to record dozens of hits including "Blueberry Hill", "Ain't That A Shame" and "I'm Walkin," to name a few.
In 1986 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in '87 he was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.
Domino was a lifelong New Orleanian who lived off of Caffin Street until Hurricane Katrina.
Domino was married to Rosemary Hall, who passed away in 2008. The couple had eight children. The family released the following statement:
"We are all touched by the outpouring of love and tribute for our father. He passed away peacefully at home surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him. His music reached across all boundaries and carried him to all corners of the world.
"…Then I rock myself to sleep
Prayin' that I am here to keep
Then I ride the rising sun
Gee ain't I being a lucky one
'Rising Sun'(Domino) ©1960 EMI Unart Catalog, Inc.
"We thank you for allowing us to grieve privately during this difficult time. Funeral arrangements are pending."
Fats was New Orleans' legendary ambassador of Rock and Roll. An early architect of the burgeoning new style of music, Domino's unique piano playing style and New Orleans drawl eventually helped make him an international superstar that would influence some of greatest artists of our time, like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Domino was born into a musical family on February 26th, 1928 in the Lower 9th Ward. His musical education was fostered by his brother in law, Harrison Verret, who tutored the young Domino. As a teenager he began playing for change in neighborhood honky-tonks. In 1946 the 18 year old played in Billy Diamond's band and it was Diamond that gave Domino his famous nickname "Fats".
But the big time would soon find it's way to the Crescent City as "Fats" teamed up with bandleader and trumpet player Dave Bartholomew in 1949. The two cut a single called "The Fat Man" and the rollicking Rhythm and Blues piano number became a million seller. It's also considered by some music historians to be the first Rock and Roll song.
"Fats" huge smile and superior talent along with the musical guidance by Bartholomew produced an unstoppable tandem that would dominate the 1950's and early 60's. The duo would collaborate and produce songs born out of the musical gumbo of New Orleans boogie-woogie, blues and R&B. Something that eventually be called Rock and Roll!
The hits would flow out of J&M studio with producer Cosimo Matassa, New Orleans was at the center of the Rock and Roll revolution.
In 1955 "Ain't It A Shame" became a smash hit and the crossover from R&B to Rock & Roll superstardom had begun in full force.
He followed with "Blueberry Hill" in 1956.
"Fats" charted 37 top 40 hits, 25 gold records and sold 65 million records.
While Domino's influence stretched around the globe, his disciples would stall his recording career. The British
Invasion of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, who idolized "Fats", would take over.
"Fats" continued to play live throughout the 60's and 70's including closing sets at Jazz Fest.
In 1986 he was fittingly part of the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the next year was awarded the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement.
A lifelong New Orleanian, "Fats" loved his home in the Lower 9th Ward but when Katrina flooded it, his future in the city was uncertain.
In 2007 the reclusive icon played his final historic gig at Tipitina's.
He eventually rebuilt his Lower 9th Ward home and would settle down with family and friends in retirement. He would still tickle the ivories as he did as part of his 85 birthday celebration.
"Fats" is synonymous with New Orleans and the city and the world loved him back.
There will never be another "Fats".