Fats Domino on “The Perry Como Show”

Fats Domino, who passed away this Tuesday on October 24 at the age of 89, was one of the great early rock and rollers. His piano playing, his rhythm, his voice, and talent for performing helped set the foundation of rock music, influencing others as he remained a beloved legend through his lifetime.

Domino was born as Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. in New Orleans on February 26, 1928. He got his first break when bandleader Billy Diamond heard Domino at a backyard barbecue in the summer of 1947. Diamond gave Domino his nickname “Fats” because the young man reminded him of famous pianists Fats Pichon and Fats Waller.

Domino gained national attention with his recording of “Fat Man” in 1949, but the release of “Ain’t That A Shame” in 1955 broke through on the pop charts. Pat Boone’s recording of the song written by Domino and Dave Bartholomew went to number one on the charts because it received more airplay during that racially segregated time, but Domino’s version still hit the top ten.

“Blueberry Hill,” released in 1956, became Domino’s biggest hit. The song from 1940 — which was written by Vincent Rose, Al Lewis and Larry Stock — had been recorded by others but Domino’s take on it became a rock and roll classic. He recorded several other classics between 1956 and 1959, including “I’m Walkin’.”

Although most known for his early work, Domino continued to be active even in recent years. In August 2005, some reported that he had died in Hurricane Katrina, but he survived despite losing all of his possessions and having to be rescued. In 2007, he performed in New York for the first time in twenty years.

Domino’s work influenced many artists through the years. Elvis Presley spoke of how Domino influenced him, and artists like Paul McCartney and John Lennon recorded Domino’s songs. His rhythm also influenced ska musicians. And many credit his work as helping break down racial barriers in the early rock and roll years.

On May 25, 1957, Domino appeared on “The Perry Como Show.” He performed two new songs, “Valley of Tears” and “It’s You I Love.” Then, later in the show, he reappears with Como as some teens “take over” the show with Domino singing “I’m Walkin’.” Check it out.

RIP Fats.

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    Oh Oh Domino (Theory)


    During a news conference on April 7, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower first invoked the use of “dominoes” in a phrase that would be used by four presidents for justifying United States involvement in Vietnam. Thus, was born the domino theory.

    During the press conference, Robert Richards of Copley Press asked Pres. Eisenhower to comment “on the strategic importance of Indochina to the free world.” Eisenhower first discussed the situation’s impact on production of materials for the world and on humans being under a dictatorship. Then, he considered the broader implications:

    “Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the ‘falling domino’ principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.”

    Eisenhower continued that the impact could spread to Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. Other questions about Indochina followed, as well as questions on other topics, such as the possible statehood of Hawaii and Alaska. But it was his comment about pieces used in a tile game that would have lasting significance. Presidents after him — John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon — would continue to grapple with the fear of not wanting to be the president who let the dominoes fall.

    Sixteen years after Pres. Eisenhower’s comments, while the U.S. was still embroiled in Vietnam and while Pres. Eisenhower’s vice-president Richard Nixon now served as president, America had “Domino” on its mind in a completely different context. They were singing along with a hit song by Van Morrison.

    Van Morrison’s “Domino” appeared as the opening song on his album His Band and the Street Choir. After being released as a single, it became a top-10 hit and Van Morrison’s highest charting single ever. The album is a “valentine to the R&B” music that inspired the Northern Irish singer.

    The song’s title had nothing to do with fears of Communists; it was a tribute to singer Fats Domino. Instead of the “dominoes” behind the nation’s war, the Van Morrison song was an uplifting song of renewal as the singer thinks “it’s time for a change” and only asks for some rhythm and blues music.

    The U.S.’s military involvement in Vietnam continued for several more years after “Domino” appeared on the charts. Pres. Eisenhower’s fears of the dominoes falling across the world, though, did not come to fruition. Fortunately, politicians no longer use dominoes to justify military force, and most kids only know “dominoes” as a game or a place to buy pizza. And we still listen to Van Morrison’s “Domino.” Lord have mercy.

    What is your favorite Van Morrison song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Happy Birthday Fats Domino!

    New Orleans legend Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr., was born in the Big Easy on February 26, 1928. Fats Domino began recording in 1949 but had his big breakthrough in the mid-1950s with the classic “Ain’t That A Shame,” which was soon followed by “Blueberry Hill” and “I’m Walkin’.”

    For Domino’s birthday, check out this video that puts together his appearances on a 1957 Perry Como Show. Rock music was still young in those days, but Domino illustrates why it was around to stay.

    When The Beatles came along in 1964, many original rock and roll singers like Domino were pushed aside. Domino’s streak of hits ended that year, although he did have a top 100 song when he covered The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna,” a song that Paul McCartey wrote as an homage to Domino’s boogie-style piano playing.

    Domino continued to perform in later decades, although he does not travel outside New Orleans these days. So we will settle for listening to his records and wishing him a happy birthday.


    What is your favorite Fats Domino song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Goodnight Irene

    As Chimesfreedom prepares for Hurricane Irene in New York, we wish others in the hurricane’s path to be safe in weathering the storm. Hopefully, we soon will be wishing Irene goodnight, as in the great song. Unlike the hurricane, “Goodnight Irene” is timeless, so that nobody knows where the song originated. Huddie Ledbetter, i.e., Lead Belly, made the first recording of the song while he was in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. His recording is a beautiful, haunting version of the song about the deep sadness of lost love, as the singer tries to warn others to avoid his fate (“Stay home with your wife and family / And stay by the fireside bright”).

    Goodnight Irene, Lead Belly

    Pete Seeger’s The Weavers helped make the song a national hit in 1950, and there have been numerous covers through the years, including interesting upbeat versions by Fats Domino and by Brian Wilson (the latter is on the tribute CD, Folkways: A Vision Shared (1988)). In the version below, Pete Seeger sings with the great Mississippi John Hurt, who tells a story about getting his first guitar. Then, the group, which includes folk-singer Hedy West (“500 Miles“) and banjo player Paul Cadwell, breaks into playing “Goodnight Irene.”

    The above performance appeared on Rainbow Quest, a show Pete Seeger started on a local UHF New York television station in the 1960s. At the time, many television stations feared featuring Seeger, who had been blacklisted because he asserted his First Amendment rights before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Fortunately, through YouTube, many more people get the opportunity to see some great performances hidden away at the time. Seeger, who now is a respected sage from a different time, has always been a bit of a hurricane himself.

    What is your favorite version of “Goodnight Irene”? Leave a comment. In times of natural disasters, it is always a good reminder to help others by donating to organizations like the Red Cross.

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