‘Blueberry Hill’ Rocker Fats Domino Dies @ 89

(Image via PBS)

This year continues to be a particularly rough one on music legends — R&B and rock pioneer Fats Domino has died at 89.

Domino passed away Tuesday, according to the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office in Louisiana.

The gifted pianist had his first big hit in 1950 with "The Fat Man," a self-referential hit that was a precursor to rappers using their own names in their songs.

He had smashes with "Ain't That a Shame" (1955), "I"m in Love Again" (1956), "Blue Monday" (1957) and "I'm Walkin'" (1957). His signature tune was "Blueberry Hill," a classic 1956 cover often referenced humorously on the TV series "Happy Days" whenever wholesome Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard, b. 1954) thought he was about to get lucky.

As big a pop act as Domino was, his race held him back. Case in point: Pat Boone (b. 1934) took "Ain't That a Shame" to #1 while Domino had to settle for Top 10 — with the same song.

He appeared as himself in the films Shake, Rattle & Rock! (1956), Jamboree! (1957) and Any Which Way You Can (1980), as well as on the buzzed-about series Treme (2012).

Domino's influence was so broad he was one of the first people inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Elvis Presley (1935-1977), Buddy Holly (1936-1959) Chuck Berry (1926-2017) and Little Richard (b. 1932).

Domino was the recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 and the National Medal of the Arts in 1998.

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