Antoine “Fats” Domino, an early pioneer of rock ’n’ roll, died Tuesday night, according to New Orleans’s CBS affiliate, WWL-TV. He was 89 years old.
The New Orleans singer and legendary pianist ushered rock music into the mainstream, injecting hints of R&B into pop music and influencing the likes of Elvis Presley and the Beatles with songs like “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” and “Blue Monday.” Along with longtime collaborator Dave Bartholomew, Domino sold more than 65 million records in his lifetime—more than any 1950s rock ’n’ roll pioneer except Presley.
Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and was awarded a National Medal of Arts from then-President Bill Clinton in 1998. Born in New Orleans in 1928, Domino had an intimate bond with the city and rarely left it later in life. His home and studio in the Ninth Ward are landmarks, the latter a yellow-and-black shrine to the birth of rock ’n’ roll—with the initials “F.D.” adorning the front facade—where presidents and famous musicians alike have paid homage. After refusing to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many believed Domino died during the storm, but he and his wife were evacuated when the house began to flood. A year later, he released his final album, Alive and Kickin’.
Though he spent the rest of his life living in Harvey, Louisiana, New Orleans never strayed from his heart. “I like it down there,” he told CBS News in 2006, matter of factly and with a smile.