Baton Rouge music experts remember legendary musician Fats Domino
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Legendary musician Antoine "Fats" Domino, who was considered one of the architects of Rock and Roll, died Wednesday at the age of 89. Domino was born was born on February 26, 1928, in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, where he lived for almost his entire life.
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Domino had 25 gold hit singles and sold 65 million records over his 50-year career. The singer-songwriter teamed up with trumpet player Dave Bartholomew to record such hits as "The Fat Man", "Blueberry Hill", "Ain't That A Shame" and "I'm Walkin."
Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 the same year awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Mike Shepherd, President of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, told WAFB Fats Domino played extensively in Baton Rouge in the 1940s through 1960s. "He had a huge impact on the musicians in Baton Rouge during that time. Everyone loved him." Shepherd described Domino as someone with a rare, infectious personality but was also down to earth, "He was so gracious, so nice, just a sweet man."
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement about the legendary musician Wednesday saying,
"The passing of Fats Domino is a great loss to music fans across Louisiana and the world. To this day, he is adored by people of all ages, from all walks of life and musicians from all genres. That is a testament to his skills as a pianist and as a songwriter. Known as a legend and one of the greatest recording artists of all times, there's no denying that when he played a song he transformed it into something spectacular. Our hearts are heavy today, but we will always remember his love for life and New Orleans through his iconic music. Donna and I send our prayers and condolences to his family."
John Wirt, a longtime Baton Rouge music and entertainment writer, said even though Fats Domino hadn't performed regularly in over 12 years Wirt was taken aback when he heard that Domino passed away. Wirt says the capital city has always had a deep love for Domino.
"Fats, like many of the artists of that time, he would play many places.
So, he came up here and played for school dances, he played at the airport once and there was a riot there because he was late, so I've heard. People here grew up with him and he was their music. More than anybody else. As much as they may have loved Lee Dorsey and Irma Thomas, Fats Domino was just the top, the greatest star to come out of New Orleans, in history."
Wirt says Domino was such a worldwide music figure that when the Beatles went to New Orleans to perform at City Park in 1964, the fab five insisted on meeting Domino, who had been one of their idols growing up. Domino agreed to meet the group who serenaded him upon arrival.
Shepherd, who inducted Domino into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame at Domino's home in Gretna, echoed the importance of Domino's larger than life stage presence.
"Fats was a great influence on all of Louisiana music. He was a unique piano player, had his own style, self-taught, original style. He was a great vocalist and even better he was a fantastic performer. Fats could bring people in with his loving character and great ways on any stage."
Days after Hurricane Katrina, several national media outlets erroneously reported Domino was missing from his home and feared dead. Domino and his family had been rescued from his home and evacuated to the Pete Marovich Assembly Center on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge. He and his family then briefly moved into the apartment of then LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who was dating Domino's granddaughter at the time. Domino's home was flooded with almost 10 feet of water following a levee break after Hurricane Katrina. Only three of his pianos were recovered from the home and were donated to museums. Domino moved to Gretna, Louisiana in the years after Hurricane Katrina.
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