One of the biggest rock and roll musicians of the 1950s has died this morning. Antoine Domino Jr, or Fats Domino as he was known, has passed away at the age of 89.
Born in New Orleans, Louisianna, the musical legend blended genres of rock and roll, boogie woogie and the blues. Domino was one of the first African American artists to gain widespread popularity among white audiences in the 1950s, and grew to sell more rock and roll records than any other artist during the decade except Elvis Presley.
In fact, Presley once called Domino “the real king of rock’n’roll” and hailed his achievements many times, The Independent notes. Domino, who was known for his rapid piano skills and soulful voice, had a number of hits still played today, including Ain’t That a Shame, Blue Monday and a version of the 1940 jazz track Blueberry Hill, which became his most famous song.
In a 1973 interview with BBC, Domino remembered his early career. “I was 17 when I made my first record in 1949. I never thought about being professional. I used to work in a lumberyard and that’s where I first heard a number on a jukebox and I liked it. It was a piano number. It was called ‘Swanee River Boogie’ by Albert Ammonds.”
Other musicians openly referenced Domino as an influence, including The Beatles, who visited him in 1964. John Lennon named Ain’t That a Shame as the first song he learned to play and Paul McCartney claimed Lady Madonna was inspired by Domino’s persona. In 2007, famous musicians including Elton John, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Robert Plant created a tribute album for Domino. The artist’s rhythm has also been widely regarded as an influence to ska and reggae music.
Celebrities including actor Samuel L. Jackson and rapper LL Cool J posted in memory of Domino. “I found My Thrill on “Blueberry Hill”! RIP Fats Domino”, Jackson wrote on Twitter, while LL Cool J said “Rest in paradise to Fats Domino. He paved the way for so many. I remember listening to his music as a little boy.”