Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fats Domino RIP

The news has just come in that Fats Domino has died at the age of 89. It's not a surprise. He hasn't performed for several years and when I visited his house in New Orleans last week it was apparent that no one was there. Yet it's still a shock. Fats Domino and his music meant so much to me, ever since my sister brought home a 78 of Blueberry Hill when I was ten years old. I loved his voice, his expressive piano playing, everything about him really. He was one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to New Orleans, just to experience the ambience of the place, the vibe that influenced his music. I saw him perform several times at Jazzfest although unforgivably I missed his famous show at the Savile Theatre in London in 1967. Whenever he performed it was great fun. He would have a first rate band behind him, with musicians of the calibre of Herb Hardesty. He would push the piano across the stage with his big frame. But most of all he always seemed happy, with a big smile on his face. It was a happiness that was infectious. You couldn't help smiling in return.
Of course, Fats was one of the giants of rock and roll, and the only major rock and roll star who predated its emergence, The Fat Man was recorded as long ago as 1949. Throughout the 1950s he produced million seller after million seller, including Ain't That A Shame, My Blue Heaven, Blue Monday, I'm Walkin'. The Big Beat, Sick and Tired, Whole Lotta Loving, I'm Ready - so many great records it was hard to keep score. He continued into the sixties with the likes of Country Boy, Walking To New Orleans, It Keeps Rainin' and Let The Four Winds Blow. His hits began to dry up, but even after moving from Imperial to ABC Paramount he continued to make excellent records, including There Goes My Heart Again, When I'm Walkin' and Red Sails In the Sunset. After that, changing trends meant that he was no longer someone who troubled the top ten, but he remained a major star of the rock and roll era.
Fats was a family man, loyal to the Lower Ninth Ward where he lived all his life until Katrina flooded his house. He was thought to be dead but was rescued by helicopter from his mansion. He was scheduled to appear at Jazzfest in 2006 but pulled out due to ill health. But he performed for the final time at Tipitina's in 2007. How I wish I could have been there. Here's a rather grainy photo of Fats at Jazzfest in 1993.
Fats, I know that you will missed by millions of people who, like me, were brought up on your music. His death will be big news throughout the world and I will leave it to the many obituaries to tell his life story. All I will say is that he was unique and will be missed. RIP.
Nick Cobban


At 2:09 am , Blogger Tony Papard said...

I did see him at Savile Theater in 1967 and several other times, including JazzFest, New Orleans (1997 or 1998) and Royal Festival Hall. I also have a DVD of the benefit performance he did on 2007 after Katrina at Tipitina's. I must watch it again soon.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home