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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Fats Domino's boogie-woogie life
Fats Domino, 1999
Fats Domino celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first hit in 1999
Fats Domino, who is reported to have been rescued from New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit, is one of the giants of R&B and rock and roll.

Born Antoine Dominique Domino on 26 February 1928, the Louisiana native is the best-selling African-American singer of the 1950s and the early 1960s.

Famous for his boogie-woogie piano style and easygoing vocals, he became the most popular exponent of the classic New Orleans R&B sound.

The musician - one of eight children - was taught piano at an early age by his brother-in-law and first performed in public at the age of 10.

As a teenager he worked in a factory but continued playing piano at local music spots.

At one of these, the Hideaway, he was noticed by a trumpeter, Dave Bartholomew, who became his bandleader, producer and songwriting partner.

Unprecedented

Domino's professional career began with The Fat Man, widely regarded as one of the first rock and roll records, which sold more than a million copies in 1949.

Fats Domino, 1967
Only Elvis Presley sold more records than Domino in the 1950s
He subsequently made the Top 10 in 1955 with Ain't That a Shame, the first in an unprecedented series of hits.

Between 1950 and 1963, he entered the pop Top 40 37 times and the R&B singles chart 59 times.

His best-known records include Blue Monday, Whole Lotta Loving and his own idiosyncratic version of the ballad Blueberry Hill.

Another hit, the Bobby Charles composition Walking to New Orleans, became a string-laden tribute to the city that inspired him.

Domino's career waned in the 1960s and he only had one more Top 40 hit - a cover version of the Beatles' Lady Madonna, which John Lennon and Paul McCartney had originally written in his trademark style.

Induction

But his influence remains strong. Singer Chubby Checker, for example, based his stage name from a play on Fats Domino.

Since the 1980s he has remained in New Orleans, where he makes yearly appearances at its Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Fats Domino, 1995
He remains a familiar figure in his native New Orleans
Living in a mansion in a predominantly working-class neighbourhood, his bright pink Cadillac has become a familiar sight.

Not even an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an invitation to perform at the White House could tempt him away from his beloved "Big Easy".

When Hurricane Katrina hit, Domino chose to stay at home with his wife Rosemary because of her poor health.

CNN reported he was rescued from the roof of his home by a coastguard helicopter on Monday.


SEE ALSO:
Fats Domino 'rescued but missing'
02 Sep 05 |  Entertainment


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