Fats Domino is one of the few people on earth who died twice in their lifetime and lived to tell once. In the floods following hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, Domino was missing, his house flooded and presumed dead for some time. He was to live 12 years extra.
Fats Domino is also a musician whose career as an influential recording artist was over when I came to the listening front. "One of the last great rock and roll artists died", the headings said in news bulletins and newspaper headlines, but to me he was always more of my parents' generation than rock and roll. Meaning from before my time and not really the sort of music that I had to catch up on, unlike Muddy Waters or Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
'Blueberry Hill' is one of those songs that I kind of know for whole my life without being able to point to a point where I heard the song first. Perhaps one of the few songs my father, who had hardly any affection for whatever music, sang when I was very little. It became a hit again in 1976, but it had been with me for much longer.
Fats Domino for me was the man with the extremely flat hairdo shown in pictures in the radio/tv guide that l looked into at my grandparents. We grandchildren always joked that he must have been hit by a pile driver and at that more than once.
I have a faint recollection that Domino scored some hits in 1968. Looking it up I find the song 'Honest Papas Love Their Mamas Better', a #13 hit and 'Lovely Rita', a #18 hit. And a few tipped singles, both also The Beatles songs. A showcase for the fact that Domino's career was obliterated by the British invasion. Searching the songs up on YouTube, I find to have no recollection of the first song, but do of the The Beatles cover, that I did not know in the original version at the time. Which is not so strange a thing. I only found out that 'With A Little Help From My Friends' was a The Beatles song when I got '1967-1970' for my birthday in 1974. Who owned (or was interested in) albums as a kid?
With the other, older songs I got to know through the years, 'Ain't That A Shame', 'Red Sails In The Sunset', e.g., I can't find anything rock and roll about it. The songs are closer to Frank Sinatra or Frankie Laine than to 'Blue Suede Shoes' or Johnny Be Goode'. There's more rock and roll in his cover of 'Lady Madonna', which apparently was modelled by Paul McCartney in Fats Domino's piano playing style.
Behind Fats Domino was always the name Dave Bartholomew, his bandleader and co-composer. I know the man is older, so I wondered when he had died. It appears he is still alive, 96 years old.
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino jr. remained popular through the decades, most likely because he appealed to a broad range of people far beyond the rebellious lot called rock and rollers, that stopped being relevant when Elvis Presley joined the army in 1958. Listening to a random choice that the algorithms at Google present me with, I hear extremely pleasant music without any danger, just like that one song that I know my whole life and went to #2 in 1976, 'Blueberry Hill'. A song I'll take with me on the rest of my trip through this life.
You can listen to 'Blueberry Hill' here: