An early pioneer of rock and roll, pianist, singer, and songwriter Fats Domino is getting a street named in his honor, where he lived most of his life—the Lower Ninth Ward (Lower 9) of New Orleans.
A lifelong resident of the Lower 9, the two-home compound on Caffin Avenue and Marais Street where Domino resided most of his life has been a landmark since 1960. On Oct. 15, 2022, Caffin Avenue will now be renamed Antoine “Fats” Domino Avenue as part of a community-wide celebration.
Led by the Stooges Brass Band, a second-line procession will march down the renamed street to Oliver Bush Park with musical tributes to Domino, including performances by Domino’s grandson Antoine Domino Jr., Kermit Ruffin, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, and Al “Little Fats” Jackson.
An organizer for the event, Reverend Willie Calhoun, who has also lived in the Lower 9 his entire life, said that the Domino tribute was long overdue.
“Fats never left the city and he’s never really been celebrated, even though he chose to stay in New Orleans and to raise his family in the Lower 9,” said Calhoun in a statement. “He had a choice to live anywhere he wanted and he made the choice to live right here.
Calhoun added, “I think this event will help bring some life and recognition to the neighborhood. The Lower 9 has gotten so much negative press, we wanted to bring people back to the area and show them the reason why Fats stayed. He stayed because this is a valuable and viable community.”
Born Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. on Feb. 28, 1928, Domino began performing in New Orleans bars at the age of 14 before playing in Billy Diamond’s band in 1947. In 1949, Domino was signed to the Imperial Records label where he began writing and recording his own music, including the single ‘The Fat Man.” Co-written with producer and longtime collaborator Dave Bartholomew, the single sold a million copies by 1951. Often cited as one of the first rock and roll songs, “The Fat Man” is also one of four of Domino’s to enter the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The duo would continue to collaborate, even co-writing Domino’s 1955 No. 1 hit, “Ain’t That a Shame” (originally titled “Ain’t It A Shame”), which has been covered by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Cheap Trick, and others.
Domino and Bartholomew—who wrote songs that were recorded by Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and also remained a resident of New Orleans until his death in 2019 at the age of 100—also co-wrote the the1957 hit “I’m Walkin’,” which peaked at No. 4 on the pop singles chart and was Domino’s third No. 1 to hit the R&B Best Sellers chart.
Continuing to write and record hits, including “Blueberry Hill,” originally written by Larry Stock and Al Lewis in 1940, Domino sold more than 110 million records throughout his career. In 1986, Domino was one of the first artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Domino refused to leave his home in New Orleans following massive flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina and was even rescued from his home by boat. Domino died of natural causes on Oct. 24, 2017, at the age of 89.
Photo By David Corio/Getty Images