The late legendary pianist Fats Domino transformed the music landscape by tapping into the power of innovation to cultivate the rock ‘n’ roll genre. The city of New Orleans—which served as the backdrop of his life—is paying homage to the visionary with a street renaming, NBC reported.
The trailblazing musician’s legacy and impact transcend across the globe, but the roots of his creativity were nurtured in NOLA. He learned how to play the piano at seven years old.
By the age of ten, he was performing as a singer and pianist within the New Orleans music circuit. As a teenager, he decided to focus solely on elevating his musical career and began playing piano for NOLA-based bass player Billy Diamond. His talent and stage presence generated buzz and big crowds.
Leaning into this momentum, he inked a deal with Imperial Records and later released a song dubbed “The Fat Man” that would catapult him into success. He co-wrote the song with fellow Louisiana native Dave Bartholomew. It became the first rock ‘n’ roll record to sell 1 million copies.
With chart-topping songs like “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill,” Domino began to solidify himself as a power player in the music and sold over 110 million records throughout his storied career. He spent his latter years out of the public eye in New Orleans, enjoying a quiet life with his wife and eight children.
Domino’s story is exemplary of the power of resilience. In the music industry, he overcame overt racism and discrimination. Later in life, he survived the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and stood by his city amid recovery efforts.
Domino passed away in 2017, but the enthusiasm that he brought to NOLA and beyond will reverberate for generations to come. The Lower 9th Ward’s Caffin Avenue, where the musician’s longtime home stands, will now bear the name Antoine “Fats” Domino Ave. A musical celebration was held on Saturday to commemorate the street renaming. The performance lineup included Domino’s grandson Antoine Domino Jr., Kermit Ruffins, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, and the Stooges Brass Band.
“Fats never left the city, and he’s never really been celebrated, even though he chose to stay in New Orleans and to raise his family in the Lower 9,” Rev. Willie Calhoun, who helped plan the celebration, shared in a statement. “He had a choice to live anywhere he wanted, and he made the choice to live right here.”
Over the past few years, efforts have been made to preserve the legacies of trailblazing Black musicians. Last year, the former Chicago home of blues singer Muddy Waters received preliminary landmark status.