Antoine “Fats” Domino, a legend of early rock music, died on Tuesday. He was 89.


Domino, whose piano-based hits influenced generations, is said to have died of natural causes according to chief investigator Mark Bone. Starting in the 1940s, Domino helped establish his hometown of New Orleans as ahead of the rock ‘n’ roll curve. His early ’60s album with producer Dave Bartholomew secured his place in history.

The pair recorded “The Fat Man” in 1949, a record that is considered one of the first rock ‘n’ roll albums. They followed it up with more than 30 Top 40 hits, including 23 gold singles. Beginning in 1955, Domino became a regular on the top pop charts. Among his most beloved titles are “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I’m Ready,” and “Walking to New Orleans.” He sold more records than any other 1950s figure, with the exception of Elvis Presley.

Domino’s version of “Blueberry Hill,” originally written in 1940, topped at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, and was the singer-songwriter’s highest-charting record. Most of his music had midtempo rhythms and a distinct triplet-based piano style. The style was copied by many, including Paul McCartney, who emulated the sound on the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna.”

Randy Newman was also deeply influenced by Domino’s work. “I was so influenced by Fats Domino that it’s still hard for me to write a song that’s not a New Orleans shuffle,” Newman said in 2008.

In 2005, Domino was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and many feared for his life. While he and his family escaped with the help of the Coast Guard, his estate didn’t fare as well. “We lost everything,” he said at the time. Domino remained a hearty part of the New Orleans music scene until his death. He played at the Tipitina nightclub in 2007 and even appeared in an episode of TV show Treme in 2012.

Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Celebrities from various industries have been tweeting their tributes since news of his death spread. New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. wrote, “RIP fats domino… you helped pave the way for new orleans piano players… see you on top of that blueberry hill in the sky ❤️🙏🏼❤️.”

“RIP Fats Domino, one pf the last of the Founding Fathers. ‘Come on pretty baby, we’re gonna rock, gonna roll, until the early light,'” said author Stephen King. I found My Thrill on ” Blueberry Hill”! RIP Fats Domino,” added Samuel L. Jackson.

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