Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Fats Domino

Induction Year: 1986

Induction Category: Performer


They call him the Fat Man. With his easy-rolling boogie-woogie piano and smooth rhythm & blues vocals, Antoine “Fats” Domino put a New Orleans-style spin on what came to be known as rock and roll. A pianist, singer, and songwriter who was born in the Crescent City in 1928, Domino sold more records (65 million) than any Fifties-era rocker except . Between 1950 and 1963, he cracked the pop Top Forty thirty-seven times and the R&B singles chart fifty-nine times. Domino’s biggest songs are as winning as his broad smile. They include “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Blueberry Hill,” “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walking to New Orleans.” Domino was born into a musical family and, like such New Orleans piano greats as and Amos Milburn, began performing for small change in local honky-tonks while working odd jobs to make ends meet. By 1949, Domino had become a fixture at the Hideaway Club. That same year he met , who became his longtime producer, bandleader and collaborator. It proved to be a fortuitous partnership that yielded a bounty of durable, straight-ahead New Orleans rhythm & blues records. While less of an outgoing personality than some of his extroverted rock and roll contemporaries, Domino exhibited staying power based on the solid musicality of his recordings and live performances. In short, he all but dominated the Fifties, insofar as rock and roll was concerned.

TIMELINE

February 26, 1928: Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. is born in New Orleans. One of nine children, he learns the fundamentals of music from his brother-in-law, Harrison Verret.

December 10, 1949: Having signed to the Imperial label, Fats Domino cuts eight tracks during his first recording session at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studios. . They include “The Fat Man” (adapted from a song called “Junkers Blues"), which reaches #2 on the R&B chart and reportedly sold a million copies. Some regard it as the first rock and roll record.

June 21, 1952: “Goin’ Home” becomes the first of nine #1 hits for Fats Domino on the R&B chart. It is released on Imperial records. Those nine singles will top the R&B chart for a combined 51 weeks between 1952-59, amounting to nearly a full year’s worth of chart supremacy!

August 1, 1954: Fats Domino performs as part of the Alan Freed-promoted “Moondog Jubilee of Stars Under the Stars” at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Other acts on the bill: , the Clovers, , Little Walter.

April 14, 1955: Fats Domino releases “Ain’t That a Shame,” previously popularized by Gene Autry and Glenn Miller. Domino’s version tops the R&B chart for 11 weeks, eventually entering the pop charts in mid-July. It is the first in a string of 37 crossover hits for Domino during the next eight years.

August 27, 1955:Fats Domino hits #1 on the R&B chart and #10 on the pop chart with “Ain’t That A Shame”, #1 on the R&B chart with “All By Myself” and #1 on the R&B chart with “Poor Me”. All three singles are released on Imperial records.

March 1, 1956: ‘Rock and Rollin’ With Fats Domino’, his first long-playing album, is released on the Imperial label.

July 14, 1956: Fats Domino hits #1 on the R&B chart and #3 on the pop chart with “I’m In Love Again” on Imperial records.

December 1, 1956: Fats Domino appears with in the breakthrough rock and roll film Shake, Rattle and Roll, performing three songs. A month later, he also turns up in The Girl Can’t Help It, singing “Blue Monday.”

December 1, 1956: Fats Domino’s highest-charting Top 40 hit, “Blueberry Hill,” reaches #2 (and tops the R&B chart for 11 weeks). It is held back from the top pop spot by Guy Mitchell’s “Singing the Blues.” Despite a career as hit-filled as his, Domino will—like Creedence Clearwater Revival—never have a #1 pop record. Might it have to do with the fact that both recorded for independent labels?

February 15, 1957: Fats Domino appears as part of “The Biggest Show of Stars for ‘57,” a three-month touring extravaganza that also features , , , Bill Doggett, and others.

April 13, 1957: Fats Domino hits #1 on the R&B chart and #4 on the pop chart with the Imperial records single “I’m Walkin’.”

1959: Fats Domino hits #1 on the R&B chart and #8 (9/14) on the pop chart with the Imperial records release “I Want To Walk You Home.”

June 1, 1960: “Walking to New Orleans,” Fats Domino’s last Top Ten pop hit, is released. It reaches #2 on the R&B chart.

April 1, 1963: After nearly 14 years on the Imperial label, Fats Domino signs with ABC-Paramount when his contract expires. He’ll also record for the Mercury and Reprise labels during the Sixties.

September 1, 1968: Fats Domino’s last single to make Billboard’s Top 100 Pop Singles chart is a cover of the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna,” a song that had been affectionately written in the Domino style by .

January 23, 1986: Fats Domino is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the first induction dinner, held in New York City. is his presenter.

February 24, 1987: Fats Domino receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 29th annual Grammy Awards. It is noted that he is “one of the most important links between rhythm & blues and rock and roll.”

November 1, 1993: Christmas Is a Special Day, Fats Domino’s first major-label album in 25 years, is released on EMI/Right Stuff. 

Essential Songs

Let the Four Winds Blow
My Blue Heaven
Jambalaya
Blueberry Hill
Walkin’ to New Orleans
The Fat Man
Ain’t That a Shame
Blue Monday
Goin’ Home
I’m Walkin’


Joe Walsh's (The Eagles) Football Jersey

Photo by Andrew Moore
Gift of Adam Spero

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