Fats attended school until the fourth grade when he realized his love of music was his calling. His brother in law Harrison Verrett, a jazz guitarist begin teaching the aspiring artist how to play the piano in 1938. Fats Domino started his career at the age of 14 playing in many local New Orleans bars. During a career that spanned decades, Fats Domino sold more than 65 million records. Some of his greatest hits were produced between 1955 and 1960 when he had a total of eleven Top 10 hits. With such great success, Fats never forgot his roots. He was a regular at the Jazz Fest, drawing crowds from all over the world to hear his popular songs. Some of which included, “Blueberry Hill”, “Walking to New Orleans”, “I’m Walkin”, “I want to walk you home”, among many others.
Domino’s music transcended generations with many youngsters of the day having grown up with parents and grandparents particularly in the New Orleans area listening to Fats music regularly. Aside from his music, Fats Domino appeared in two films released in 1956, Shake Rattle & Roll! and That Girl Can’s Help It.
In 1986, Fats Domino was one of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following year he was the recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts. However, Fats declined an invitation to play at the White House.
Fats was a regular throughout New Orleans. He was very proud of his local roots and was often seen about the streets of the city. He always had a smile larger than life and treated his fans with a great deal of respect. He was an ambassador of New Orleans that had a following that can never be matched.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Fats Domino and members of his family stayed behind. It was widely reported by the national media that Domino had not been heard from for days and possibly had died during the storm. On September 1st, CNN reported that Fats Domino had been rescued by a US Coast Guard helicopter. Domino lost everything in his 9th Ward home. After temporarily evacuating to Baton Rouge, he quickly made plans to return to the New Orleans area. In 2006, Domino purchased a home in Harvey and returned with his family. President Bush on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, replaced Domino’s National Medal of Arts after the original medal was lost in the floodwaters during the storm. In September 2007, Domino was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
After suffering from illnesses, Domino limited his schedule in the later years spending most of his time with friends and family. Eric Paulsen of WWL-TV was a close friend of Domino and would provide occasional updates of his activities. On October 24th, surrounded by family Fats Domino passed away at the age of 89. We here on the West Bank were proud to call Fats Domino a resident of our community. He will be missed by all that knew him here and throughout the world. The legacy of the “Fat Man” will live on through his music and contributions to a city that loved him as much as he loved entertaining his fans.