So sad to hear of his passing. Sad, for several reasons… when a hero dies, of course, one thinks first of the person and his family and the sorrow about it all, followed with the wider recognition of the rich legacy he left behind. But linked with that, somehow there is grieving for one’s own lost childhood.
I was about ten years-old when Fats came into my awareness. He was in the first line of performers that shook up the world in the 50s with fresh music that previous generations could not comprehend. Along with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee and others, Fats Domino had a voice and a style that acted like a magnet to my senses. He was a king in my eyes, a humble man with a talent for turning simple songs into unforgettable ones. His rolling, Louisiana feel was impeccable, always aided by a stellar band, including the great drummers, Earl Palmer and Charles Connor. While Chuck’s and Richard’s muse lay more in the blues, Domino’s was simpler and yet more wide-ranging. While other performers reveled in extreme showmanship and outrageous (for the times) behavior, Fats was just himself, a nice man with a shy smile to the audience as he effortlessly pounded the keys. Who could not be drawn to him?
Episode Six included many of his songs in their repertoire, I’ve just counted, there were nine. And it’s telling that during one our reunions many years ago, we had an impromptu jam and the song that I most wanted to do was I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Some Day. I loved that song, the sentiment behind it, dreaming of a better future with braggadocio. I remember marveling at the arrangement and the incessant feel of the thing.
Being around at the birth of rock’n’roll was a gift in my life and Fats Domino was a huge part of that. His music is in my DNA, which will appear in my children, so Fats Domino will always be with us.