Celebrating the legacy of Fats Domino (RIP)

We lost Fats Domino last week.

He was an early pioneer of the music genre we call “rock ‘n’ roll music,” and became one of the first rhythm and blues musicians to gain popularity with white audiences.

Fats sold more than 60 million records, with more hit records between 1950 and 1963 than Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly combined.

Elvis Presley considered Fats “the real king of rock ’n’ roll.”

The first song John Lennon ever learned how to play on a guitar was “Ain’t That a Shame,” a Fats Domino song.

A humble man whose humility and shyness may have contributed to the reason why his legacy has often been overlooked

In 1956, Fats Domino made national headlines when his appearance in San Jose, California sparked one of the earliest rock ‘n’ roll riots in America, which LOUIE LOUIE songwriter Richard Berry was actually a part of.

Here’s a little something I wrote about that event and Richard’s connection to it..

Fats Domino performed at the Palomar Gardens Ballroom on Saturday, July 7, 1956 for what turned out to be one of the the earliest rock and riots in the history of America. 3,500 tickets were sold. Lines of people wrapped around six blocks. Beer bottles were thrown, windows were broken, clothes were ripped, teeth were broken, and a lot of people were taken to the hospital. Nothing of this scale ever happened in America, and it set off a tidal wave of reactions from concerned parents, politicians, psychiatrists, and journalists that were concerned about the dangers of this explosive music called “rock and roll.”

Two of my dear friends were at this event, which I never knew about until I got them both together in the same room. Richard Berry, author of LOUIE LOUIE, met my friend Bob Sidebottom at Bob’s store, the Comic Collector Shop. Although Richard wasn’t listed on the bill, he was part of the big show. Both of these guys saw the chaos up close, with beer bottles flying all over the place…

Today, I’m sharing a brand new video clip that utilizes a snippet of my audio recording of that conversation, combined with some photos I shot of Richard and Bob along with some newspaper clippings from the San Jose Mercury News archive at San Jose Library…

I’m not sure who the person is that’s speaking at the 0:05 mark with the comment “never heard of you.. sorry to say that.” It was one of the friends or customers at Bob’s store that night, and his name has since been forgotten.


I’m also sharing clip I shot of Pat Mason, who shared a story about working with Fats Domino and Little Richard at a show in Yakima, Washington during the 1950’s.

You can read more about Pat Mason, who died in 2001 at the age of 93 years, by clicking HERE.


I found a YouTube clip from the PBS American Masters documentary on that discussed the riots during various Fats Domino shows


Of course, let’s not forget his wonderful music…


Do you have have favorite Fats Domino stories… maybe something involving the infamous San Jose riot of 1956?

If so, please feel free to share in the comments…

– E.P. of LouieLouie.net


Reference Links:

Wikipedia – Fats Domino

New York Times – ‘The Big Beat’ Celebrates Fats Domino, Rock’s Reclusive Giant

LouieLouie.net – July 7 = Rock and Roll History in San Jose

LouieLouie.net – Pat Mason shares a little story

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