UPDATED: Fats Domino, one of the pioneering early architects of rock and roll via hits like “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill,” died Tuesday at the age of 89. The most powerful, and certainly the most popular, of a generation of great Crescent City keyboardists, Domino rocked into the public consciousness in 1950 with the self-referential single “The Fat Man,” and in 1955 crossed over to pop success with the slamming top-10 hit “Ain’t That a Shame.” He became a pop star of the first rank with hits like “I’m in Love Again” (No. 3, 1956), “Blueberry Hill” (No. 2, 1956), “Blue Monday” (No. 5, 1957) and “I’m Walkin’” (No. 4, 1957).
His biographer Rick Coleman wrote, “As (Domino’s bandleader-arranger) Dave Bartholomew would later put it, Domino was the ‘cornerstone’ of rock ’n’ roll, inspiring many later legends who began their careers as Domino fans: Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, John Fogerty, Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen.”
In 1986, he joined Presley, Berry, Holly and Little Richard as an inaugural inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Domino’s songs were covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Pat Boone, from Cheap Trick to Jah Wobble, and as news spread of his passing, social media lit up with tributes. Among the first were from LL Cool J, Kid Rock, Harry Connick Jr., actors Wendell Piece (who starred in the New Orleans-based HBO drama “Treme”) and Samuel L. Jackson, and Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise, who was grievously injured in June when a gunman opened fire on a practice in Alexandria, Va. (He has since recovered and returned to work.) Over the next couple of hours tributes arrived from fellow New Orleans legend Dr. John, country artist Charlie Daniels, author Stephen King, Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, pioneering rock guitarist Duane Eddy and Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards.
Martin Bandier, chairman/CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls many of Domino’s hits, said “He was of my childhood favorites who I helped financially after New Orleans was decimated by Katrina. I loved his music, and it was one of, if not the first rock and roll show I saw, in an Alan Freed revue.”