Fats Domino on “The Perry Como Show”

Fats Domino, who passed away on October 24, 2017 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.

Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Rick Nelson’s Death and Life

    On December 31, 1985, singer-songwriter Rick Nelson was flying to  new Year’s Eve appearance in Dallas when the DC-3 crashed.  The crash killed Nelson and all seven passengers.  The two pilots of the plane — which had taken off from Guntersville, Alabama — survived the attempted emergency landing with serious injuries.

    The cause of the crash is still a mystery.  The plane had started filling with smoke from an unknown origin before the pilots had to attempt to land the plane.

    Ozzie And Harriet

    What was not a mystery was that Rick Nelson was a great talent, often underrated.  He had rose to fame as “Ricky Nelson” in the 1950s with his parents on the television show, The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet.  

    But it was his performance of a song on the show in 1957 that really began his career as a musician.  In an April 10, 1957 episode, he sang the Fats Domino song “I’m Walkin’.”

    Following his first release of “I’m Walkin” and “A Teenager’s Romance” in 1957, Nelson hit the top 40 charts around thirty times in the next five years. Below he performs his classic version of “Lonesome Town,” which was written by Baker Knight, on The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet.  

    Later Music Career

    After his early string of hits, his career had various ups and downs.  The arrival of the Beatles made rockabilly music out of fashion for a time.  But Nelson’s work influenced others.  His influence can be heard in what came to be known as “the California sound.”

    In the early 1970s, Nelson’s popularity returned for a period. He had a top 40 song with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me.” Nelson performs the song with his band, The Stone Canyon Band, on The Mike Douglas Show in 1969 below.

    Nelson’s final major hit was his 1972 song, “Garden Party.” Nelson wrote the autobiographical song after he had been booed for performing a current song, “Country Tonk” (a version of The Rolling Stones’s “Honky-Tonk Woman”) at a performance.  The incident during Richard Nader’s Rock ‘n Roll Revival concert, which took place on October 15, 1971, inspired Nelson to pen “Garden Party.”

    An interesting piece of trivia is that the “Mr. Hughes” mentioned in “Garden Party” refers to The Beatles’ George Harrison.  Harrison was a neighbor and friend of Nelson’s who was in the audience at the show. Harrison used the alias “Hughes” when traveling, and he was likely in disguise so people would not recognize him.

    “Garden Party” was Nelson’s last success on the charts. But he continued touring up until his death.  The last song he performed the night before his death was Buddy Holly’s “Rave On.”

    Below Nelson performs “Travelin’ Man” in 1985, not long before the plane crash that took his life.

    After Nelson’s death in 1985, his work continued to earn more respect among critics.  In 1987, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    What is your favorite Rick Nelson 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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