New York (AFP) – Fats Domino, whose rollicking rhythm and blues piano helped give birth to rock ‘n’ roll, has died in his lifelong home of New Orleans, the coroner said Wednesday. He was 89.
Domino, who had made few public appearances over the past decade, died Tuesday morning of natural causes, said Gerry Cvitanovich, Jefferson Parish Coroner.
“He was true to his new Orleans roots and he was a real legend,” he said.
Domino’s daughter earlier announced the death to a local television station, saying that the rock legend died peacefully around family.
Domino was a fixture in New Orleans, where he had soaked up the influences of the musical melting pot and, even after gaining fame, stayed in his old neighborhood where he would sometimes sleep outside in a hammock.
In his heyday he was considered a rival to Elvis Presley as the king of rock ‘n’ roll. But with a natural shyness, the self-effacing Domino faded in prominence by the mid-1960s as a crop of swaggering rock stars came to dominate pop culture.
Born as Antoine Domino, he picked up his nickname early — which was cemented by the success of 1949’s “The Fat Man,” one of the legendary early tracks of rock ‘n’ roll with his rhythm-and-blues piano backed up by an energetic back-beat.
He later recorded some of the greatest hits of the 1950s, which became omnipresent on the jukeboxes of America, such as “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill.”
Domino was part of the first group of musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 alongside Presley and Chuck Berry.
Domino was briefly unaccounted for when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005. He was evacuated and a year later released a final album, “Alive and Kicking,” to benefit artists hit by the tragedy.