Fats Domino: The Fat Man


The Fat Man


Fats Domino (piano, vocals)


Rockin' on Rampart (Proper 120)

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Fats Domino (piano, vocals),

Dave Bartholomew (trumpet), Joe Harris (alto sax), Herb Hardesty (tenor sax), Clarence Hall (tenor sax), Alvin “Red” Tyler (baritone sax), Ernest McLean (guitar), Frank Fields (bass), Earl Palmer (drums)


Composed by Fats Domino


Recorded: New Orleans, December 10, 1949


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Those who contend that rock 'n' roll was invented in New Orleans will present this track as Exhibit 1A for the prosecution. This spirited single hit the Billboard chart on April Fools Day in 1950, and three years later "The Fat Man" had racked up enough sales to earn Mr. Domino a gold record. Certainly there weren't many songs from the Truman administration so raw or uninhibited. Perhaps that other Fats (Waller) had created piano music that sounded like an invitation to a party, but this new Fats (Domino) was opening up the doors to a downright bacchanalia.

I can't say which was more of a hook: Domino's prancin' poundin' piano or his throbbing waa waa vocal. But put them together and you open the page on a new era in American music. Over the next decade, the piano would lose its position as anchor of the rhythm section in most commercial recordings—its place usurped by the plugged-in guitar. But I can't believe for a second that six strings could ever adequately replace Domino's ten fingers. Was Fats the father of rock, that first falling domino that set everything else in motion? I might not go that far, but New Orleans is clearly the place where rock learned how to roll.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

If you liked this track, also check out

Fats Domino: Swanee River Hop
Fats Domino: Ain't That a Shame
Dave Bartholomew: My Ding-a-Ling

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A History of New Orleans Music in 100 Tracks edited by Ted Gioia


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