The Beatles were huge fans of Fats Domino, who died today, Oct. 25 at age 89.
“Lady Madonna,” a top 10 hit for the Beatles in 1968, was inspired by Fats Domino, according to Paul McCartney in a 1994 interview. “Lady Madonna' was me sitting down at the piano trying to write a bluesy boogie-woogie thing ... It reminded me of Fats Domino for some reason, so I started singing a Fats Domino impression. It took my other voice to a very odd place.”
Fats Domino was also a fan of The Beatles. He covered “Lady Madonna” along with two other Beatles songs, “Lovely Rita” and “Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey” while he was signed to Reprise Records. All three songs were released as singles and the first two appeared on his Fats Is Back album. “Lady Madonna” peaked at #100 after two weeks on the Billboard singles chart, while Fats Is Back topped at #189 on the magazine's album chart, both in 1968.
Tributes to Fats came in from everywhere Wednesday, starting with The Beatles, whose Twitter account sent out a photo of the group and Fats taken by Curt Gunther in 1964. The tweet included the words “Fats Domino - an inspiration to the band and a music legend. Rest In Peace.” Paul Stanley of kiss tweeted, “RIP Fats Domino. One of the true pioneers and founding fathers. Another face for rock’s Mount Rushmore.” From author Stephen King: “RIP Fats Domino, one of the last of the Founding Fathers. 'Come on pretty baby, we’re gonna rock, gonna roll, until the early light.'”
Beatles historian Bruce Spizer, in the Oct. 25 New Orleans News-Picayune, said the 1964 meeting between the Fabs and Domino took place in New Orleans and was arranged by Clarence “Frogman” Henry, who opened for the Beatles. But then they had to find Domino, known to be a recluse. According to Paul McCartney, "They found him getting groceries in a store or something."
Domino was born Feb. 26, 1928 in New Orleans. He was signed to the Imperial Records label in 1949 and had his first R&B hit, “The Fat Man,” in 1950. His singles from 1954 to1960 in the Billboard Pop Top 10 included “Ain't That a Shame” (#10), “I'm In Love Again” (#3), “Blueberry Hill” (#2), “Blue Monday” (#5), “I'm Walkin'” (#4), “Whole Lotta Loving” (#6), “I Want To Walk You Home” (#8), “Be My Guest” (#8) and “Walking To New Orleans” (#6).
His children posted a statement today on his official website:
“We are all touched by the outpouring of love and tribute for our father. He passed away peacefully at home surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him. His music reached across all boundaries and carried him to all corners of the world.
'…Then I rock myself to sleep
Prayin’ that I am here to keep
Then I ride the rising sun
Gee ain’t I being a lucky one' ('Rising Sun' (Domino) ©1960 EMI Unart Catalog, Inc.)
We thank you for allowing us to grieve privately during this difficult time.”
Greg Harris, Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame President and CEO issued a statement on Domino's passing. “Before Elvis, Jerry Lee and Chuck Berry, there was Fats. His sweet voice, rolling boogie-woogie piano, and delightful charisma made him a top-selling artist, a worldwide rock star and an inaugural member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
Neil Portnow, CEO of the Recording Academy, also issued a statement this afternoon. “Our Recording Academy family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of rock and roll visionary Fats Domino. In a career spanning more than five decades, Domino charmed audiences with his smooth vocals, boogie-woogie piano style, and unwavering humility. He is widely recognized for influencing artists across all genres, having a number of his hits covered by music industry giants, including John Lennon, Cheap Trick, and Led Zeppelin. In 1987, Domino received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy, our formal salute to his remarkable contributions to rock history. He will be greatly missed but remembered for paving the way for rock and roll. Our condolences go out to Domino’s family, friends, and collaborators during this difficult time.”