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Dr. John Remembers Fats Domino: ‘Goodness Came Through in His Music’

Fats Domino was a hip cat, and he and Dave Bartholomew were one of the greatest songwriting teams of all time. Their songs had a cool groove, slammin’ chords and simple lyricals like “I’m savin’ all my lovin’ just for you.” As simple as it gets — that was the key.

Fats’ piano rolls and boogie shuffles were the reason why a gang and a half of sessions asked me to play Fats songs when I was coming up. His sound inflected everyone from the Beatles to Elvis, but nobody could play like him. He had Smokey Johnson on drums, Cos [Cosimo Matassa] in the studio, and Bobby Charles co-writing “Walkin’ to New Orleans,” and that was a blessing. I remember that Fats always worked the house to the maximonium, playing long sets and pushing the piano across the stage with his belly.

He was a good man, and that goodness came through in his music. That’s why people all over the planet responded with their hearts. And I used to love hogshead cheese when he made it for me. Spiritually he was off the charts, and that will always be in my memory banks about Fats.

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Dr. John is a standard-bearer of the New Orleans Sound. He’s also celebrated for his colorful vernacular.

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