A Short Biography
Antoine "Fats" Domino was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, on the 26th of February 1928. When he was a 7 year old kid, he learned piano from his ,much older, brother-in-law Harrison Verrett. His piano playing was influenced by boogie woogie pianists like Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis and his triplet piano style came from Little Willie Littlefield, who, still lives in the Netherlands. His first record was "The Fat man", recorded in 1949 and became a R & B hit in 1950 and a gold record in 1953. His cooperation with the bandleader Dave Bartholomew resulted in an almost endless chain of R & B and Top 100 hit records. He also played the piano on Lloyd Price's millionseller "Lawdy miss clawdy". Fats performed in 4 Rock & Roll movies, "The girl can't help it, "Shake rattle and rock", "Jamboree" and "The Big beat". This ended in 1963 with "Red sails in the sunset", by than Fats recorded for ABC-Paramount and the cooperation with Dave had ended. In the period 1949-1960 he had 23 million sellers, not less than 17 were co-written with Dave Bartholomew.
Fats meets Elvis in Las Vegas 1964 (courtesy of Mr. Herbert Hardesty)
90 percent of all the solos on Fats's records were played by this man on his Tenor Saxophone,Herbert Hardesty, he joined Fats for more than 50 years. He passed away December 3rd 2016 at the age of 91.
left- Back in the fifties (courtesy by Herb Hardesty)
right- Mr.Hardesty in 2000 (copyright Jef Jaisun)
In 1955, with the arrival of Rock & Roll, Fats became also popular with the white audience starting with the song 'Ain't that a shame'.
Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records sold his record company to LIBERTY in 1963.
At that time success faded a little and Fats signed a contract with ABC-Paramount, were he had a couple of hits. Later, in 1965, he had a very good live album on MERCURY and
a couple of albums on REPRISE and SONET.
If you want more information ,I recommand some books. The first is written by John Broven, called 'Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans' (also published as 'Walking to New Orleans'),
Pelican Publishing Company, ISBN no. 0-88289-433-1.
Also recommended: 'I hear you knockin' (The Sound of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues) by Jeff Hannusch,
Swallow Publications, and his latest book, 'The Soul of New Orleans' (A Legacy of Rhythm and Blues), published in 2001, and it has a chapter on Fats, the publisher is Swallow Publications, ISBN is 0-9614245-8-3. If you like New Orleans music, then find a copy. Earl Palmer, the legendary drummer with his famous 'backbeat', died in September, 2008. Of the numerous hits he played on, I mention 'The Fat man', 'Mardi Gras in New Orleans' 'I'm in love again' , 'I'm walkin'. He played on so many hits, that it is too much to mention. All the details you can find in his biography, called 'Backbeat' written by Tony Scherman, published in 1999 by First Da Capo Press Edition, ISBN no. 0-306-80980-X.
When I first heard his music I was 13 years old. In that time there were no commercial radio stations in Holland. The only pop program I remember had a frequency of one hour every week, it was called "Tijd voor Teenagers" (Time for teenagers) and the guy who presented this did a short review on the Billboard Hot 100; so the first Fats Domino records I heard in 1960 were in fact almost his last releases for the Imperial label. So I became a fan and I was treasure huntin' in every recordshop in Amsterdam. I bought a lot of singles and a couple of longplays. I had two good friends, one of 'm collected every Cliff Richard record, the other collected Buddy Holly records and of course we tried very hard to convince each other why Fats, Buddy or Cliff were the best. (Fats of course , and now in the right, still subjective, perspective my second choice is Elvis Presley. Later, when the Beatles and Stones became popular I lost temporarely interest in the pre-Beatles R&B and I even sold my Fats records. In the 70's I returned to the roots, so everything I lost is back now (and more). (Jelte van der Zee)