25 October 2017
Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm and blues singer whose hits include Blueberry Hill and Ain’t That a Shame, has died aged 89 of natural causes.
Domino, born in 1928 and one of nine siblings, left school at 14 to take on work in a bedspring factory – but went on to sell over 110 million records in a career that took off in the mid-1950s, having learned piano on an upright a cousin left in his New Orleans family home.
He became one of the first black performers to feature on pop music television shows, appearing alongside the likes of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. But as rock’n’roll gave way to the guitar pop of The Beatles and others in the 1960s, American tastes changed, and his popularity started to dwindle.
Domino also was one of the first ever inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and, in 1998, the first rock’n’roll musician to be awarded the National Medal for the Arts.
He lived in New Orleans all his life, and was badly affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – he had to be rescued by boat along with his family, losing three pianos and dozens of gold and platinum records. But he would occasionally still appear in the city’s blues clubs right up until 2007.
He and his wife Rosemary, who died in 2008, brought up eight children together.