Music legend Fats Domino dies at 89


Fats Domino
Fats Domino (Wikimedia Commons)

Singer-songwriter Fats Domino has died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, reports New Orleans station WWLTV. The singer-songwriter epitomized the spirit of New Orleans, and influenced generations of musicians with his inimitable style of rhythm and blues.

Antoine Domino Jr., a New Orleans native of French Creole descent, had an early breakout with 1949's "The Fat Man," a song inspired by the nickname he'd already acquired. The song established his style, blending rolling piano and expressive vocals to create an intoxicating blend. It sold a million copies, becoming one of the most successful early singles in a rock and roll style.

Six years later, "Ain't That a Shame" hit the top ten and established Domino as a bona fide pop star. The subsequent decade saw Domino hit a commercial peak along with the first wave of rock and roll stars, charting hits like "Blueberry Hill" and "I'm Walkin'." In addition to influencing artists like the Beatles, Domino had vast commercial success; among '50s rockers, only Elvis Presley sold more records.

He continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s, but by 1980 had settled into a quiet life in his hometown. When Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005, Domino's house was heavily flooded and he had to be rescued by helicopter.

Domino was in the original class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, alongside Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Ray Charles, and the Everly Brothers. His induction speech was delivered by Elton John, who credited Domino for proving the piano was "a rock and roll instrument."

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