Fats Domino's death at 89, the same year that Chuck Berry passed, leaves few original rock pioneers. The New Orleans native came to personify the city, like Louis Armstrong before him and Dr. John, Allan Toussaint, Irma Thomas and the Neville Brothers after him. Born Antoine Dominique Domino in 1928, he was a product of New Orleans' Ninth Ward, He was taught by a brother in law and listened to black blues and boogie woogie pianists like Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson and singer-pianist Amos Milburn.
Domino was playing in a local R&B band in the late 40's before Hollywood-based Imperial Records signed him in 1949, alerted to him by local musician Dave Bartholomew. His hits had a consistent sound and distinctive New Orleans flavor courtesy of Bartholomew, who became his bandleader for many years and whose bands included some of the best players in New Orleans. Much of his best work was recorded at Cosimo Matassa's J&M studio in New Orleans. It's worth noting that before he became a household word in America, he was an established R&B star with 11 singles that charted nationally before 1955. Here are a couple. (Photo Credit: Tipitina Foundation)