He was born Antoine Dominique Domino in 1928 in New Orleans. As
a child he played piano and sang, and the first language he learned to speak was French.
He first performed in public at age 10. He continued with music into the 40's
and was heard by Dave Bartholomew, who would become his writing partner on many of Fats'
hit songs. Fats joined the Dave Bartholomew Band in the mid-40's. He was
influenced by Albert Ammons and Fats Waller, among others.
He signed a
contract with Imperial in 1949 and at his first recording session he made sure that he
recorded the traditional Hey La Bas. "La Bas" was originally a
voodoo god of luck, was identified with St. Peter in French-Catholic Louisiana and finally
became La Bas. The record indicated a coming together of many years of New Orleans
history and musical influence. It was not, however, his first record to be released.
A song about drugs called The Fat Man was cleaned up
a bit for his first commercial release, and it reached the R&B chart in 1950.
According to some reports, the song was a million seller. The Fat Man also
became a nickname for Fats Domino. Another song that made the R&B chart for him, Every
Night About This Time, used a piano triplet for which Fats was to become famous.
It showed how his music had been influenced by that of Little Willie Littlefield.
Fats had another R&B hit with Goin' Home in 1952.
Fats Domino exploded onto the rock-and-roll scene in 1955
when his song, Ain't That A Shame, was covered by white recording artist Pat
Boone. Boone's version went to number one, and Domino's version on Imperial went to
number ten. The song established both artists as stars. Fats could be heard
in the background on the records of other artists, such as Joe Turner and Lloyd Price. He
continued to write songs with Dave Bartholomew, many of which became hits. In 1956 he put
five songs in the top forty, including I'm In Love Again and Fats' rendition of a
song that had reached number one for Glenn Miller in 1940, Blueberry Hill.
The latter went to number two and was Domino's highest charting record ever.
Fats Domino had his final top ten song in 1960 with Walking To New
Orleans. He recorded some old Hank Williams songs such as Jambalaya [On The
Bayou] and You Win Again and he did old standards such as Red Sails In The
Sunset, which was his final top forty song, in 1963. In 1968, he even did a
cover of the Beatles' Lady Madonna.
Fats Domino still lives in New Orleans with his wife
Rosemary, with whom he has had eight children. His awards have been many, including
Grammy's Lifetime Achievement and Hall Of Fame Awards. In 1986, Fats Domino took his
place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.