Friday, October 27, 2017

Fats Domino Makes The Passage

Antoine 'Fats' Domino passed away last night in New Orleans, of natural causes. He was 89.

Back in the 1950's and early 1960's he fused N'awlins R&B with white pop and early rock n' roll memes to create a unique style that opened the door for a whole lot of acts from New Orleans. You can hear it in huge hits like 'Blueberry Hill,' 'Ain't That A Shame,' "Blue Monday' and one of my faves, 'Walking To New Orleans.'

At one time, he was a huge star, but he apparently succumbed to something that seems to hit a lot of musicians from New Orleans...a feeling that he was more comfortable just being a big name at home, in New Orleans, and was happy with that. Oh, there were bookings in places like Vegas now and then, but basically Fats stayed home with his family.

I met him briefly once when I got backstage at the Jazz and Heritage Festival back in the early 80's after his set, which the audience responded to the way you greet a beloved friend you haven't seen in awhile. And offstage, he was pretty much like his public image...friendly,courteous and relaxed. I remember thinking that he was one of the happiest people in the business I had ever seen, just totally comfortable with it all.

There was another time I was supposed to see him play, at Tipitina's, but he never showed...pity, because it was an amazing night with Professor Longhair and some of the Meters falling by. He would have fit right in beautifully. He always did.

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In 2005, after Katrina hit, he came back out of retirement at 77, for one final album, “Alive and Kicking,” to benefit New Orleans musicians who were affected by the hurricane. His voice wasn't what it once was, but he could still play great, and it's well worth a listen if you can find it.

Rest in peace, Fat Man...and thanks for the music.

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