New Orleans singer-pianist Fats Domino, one of the seminal influences on bedrock ‘n’ roll, died Tuesday in his hometown of New Orleans at age 89. When Domino active a recording accord with Lew Chudd, buyer of Imperial Records, pop history was in the making. The artisan recorded a bulk of hit singles in the 1950s, including “Ain’t It a Shame,” “Blueberry Hill,” “Blue Monday,” and “My Blue Heaven,” putting Imperial on the map. Domino helped ad-lib bedrock ‘n’ cycle — some attention his 1949 recording “The Fat Man” as the aboriginal bedrock ‘n’ cycle almanac — and his complete was adopted by anybody from Little Richard to the Beatles to Randy Newman to Dr. John.
Along the way, the pop mural was changed. With Fats Domino, Lew Chudd succeeded in business a atramentous artisan to boilerplate America possibly for the aboriginal time — Domino appeared frequently on civic TV programs and his concert tours featured atramentous and white artists on the aforementioned bill, generally arena for predominantly white audiences.
By the time 1955 had formed around, Antoine “Fats” Domino had already denticulate bristles gold annal (selling a actor copies each). Amid 1955 and 1960, he denticulate eleven Top 10 hits. According to NPR, amid 1950 and 1963, Domino hit the R&B archive 59 times and the pop archive 63 times. He outsold Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly — combined. Only Elvis Presley awash added annal during that stretch, but alike Baron Elvis paid accolade to Domino “the absolute baron of bedrock ‘n’ roll.”
Domino’s adventure is accordingly intertwined with that of Lewis Robert “Lew” Chudd, built-in Louis Chudnofsky in Toronto in 1911 to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. The ancestors anon confused to New York City, and Chudd grew up in Harlem. He bound ascended the ball business, alive for NBC as an ad salesman, announcement beat bands, and creating “Let’s Dance,” a nationally advertisement radio affairs that played a acute role in axis Jewish bandleader Benny Goodman into “the Baron of Swing” — aloof the alpha of Chudd’s career as a “king”-maker.
Like a cardinal of his Jewish peers, Chudd eventually begin himself in the almanac business, ambience up absolute labels to serve indigenous and geographic markets. Crown, his aboriginal label, focused on jazz. Imperial, founded in 1946, was originally advised to ambition the growing atramentous and Hispanic record-buying markets in southern California. In 1947, Chudd assassin a New Orleans bandleader called Dave Bartholomew as a aptitude advance and almanac producer. Bartholomew alien Chudd to his pianist, Fats Domino, and Chudd active Domino to Imperial, which denticulate its aboriginal civic hit with Domino’s “The Fat Man.” Domino’s recordings weren’t bedfast to the R&B or “race” charts, but “crossed over” to the pop (read: white) charts. At the time, this was a about aberrant accomplishment.
Imperial went on to adore success with added R&B artists, including Roy Brown, Smiley Lewis, Chris Kenner, and Ernie Freeman. The characterization additionally recorded dejection musicians Smokey Hogg, T-Bone Walker and Lightnin’ Hopkins, and country accompanist Slim Whitman. Chudd went on to assurance Ricky Nelson, the brilliant of the television alternation “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” to Imperial in 1957. But Domino remained the label’s brilliant and bestselling artist.
Seth Rogovoy is a accidental editor at the Forward.
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