Slowly and inevitably, the rock and roll pioneers are passing away. Chuck Berry died in March and Fats Domino earlier this week. It’s inevitable, natural and, of course, sad.
The Daily Music Break previously posted about Fats Domino — actually, Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. — four years ago. Domino was one of the long list of piano players prod
uced by New Orleans. The tradition, which includes Jelly Roll Morton, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Champion Jack Dupree, Little Richard and others, is amazing — as is the city’s legacy of great trumpet players.
Links to biographical information about Domino can be found at the earlier post.
Nobody follows all artists. I always liked Fats Domino, but hadn’t gone much beyond “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t it a Shame” and a couple of others. Along with the sadness, a performers’ passing can lead people to dig a bit deeper into what made them a star. Indeed, the artist probably would be happy with that outcome.
Fats Domino’s music and his buoyant personality both were great. One good way of assessing an artist is to hear his or her version of a standard. Domino had a hit with “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” the great Hank Williams song. The difference between William’s country version and the driving rhythm of Domino’s makes for an interesting comparison.
Rolling Stone, in the transcript of a short interview with Little Richard about Domino, noted that he and Jerry Lee Lewis are the only true rock and roll pioneers left. Little Richard — Richard Wayne Penniman — said that he and Domino were good friends. He also was a fan:
Oh, I love…When I was a boy in Macon, Georgia, Fats used to come here. He was managed by a guy I can’t quite recall, but he used to play at a club in Macon. I didn’t have the money to go see him, so I used to try and sneak in because I loved him. I loved his piano playing. I love his music, period.
The New York Times ran a front page obit of Domino, clearly a sign of deep respect. It includes a quote from Elvis essentially saying that Domino — and the other African-American artists did it first.