Fats Domino was one of the most popular rockers of the 1950s and early 60s. His achievements and record sales during that time were rivaled only by Elvis Presley. With his piano playing rooted in blues, rhythm & blues, and jazz, he became one of the inventors of a revolutionary genre of music, rock ‘n’ roll.
In celebration of Fats Domino’s 88th birthday, PBS’ “American Masters” aired the feature documentary, “Fats Domino and The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” premiering nationwide last week Friday, February 26 at 10 p.m. (ET). If you missed it, the full feature is now available online, thanks to PBS, and embedded below, so check it out!
The one-hour documentary traces how Fats Domino’s brand of New Orleans rhythm and blues morphed into rock and roll, appealing to black and white audiences alike.
“He [Domino] had four major riots at his shows partly because of integration,” says Fats Domino biographer Rick Coleman. “But also the fact they had alcohol at these shows. So they were mixing alcohol, plus dancing, plus the races together for the first time in a lot of these places.”
Actor Clarke Peters narrates.
Among those interviewed are producer/songwriter/bandleader and longtime collaborator Dave Bartholomew, who co-wrote and produced most of Domino’s hits; J&M studio owner, engineer and producer Cosimo Matassa, who was involved in creating rock ‘n’ roll recordings by Domino, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Lloyd Price and many others; and saxophonist Herb Hardesty, a mainstay of both Domino’s and Bartholomew’s bands.
“Fats Domino is one of America’s most beloved entertainers,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of “American Masters.” “In viewing this film, we come to understand the pivotal role he played in the popularization of the big beat style and the birth of rock’n’ roll, but also the important influence he had on the music of the 1960s and 1970s.”
“American Masters: Fats Domino and The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a production of HISTORIC MUSIC LIBRARY. Producers are Joe Lauro, Rich Nevins and Rick Coleman. Editor is Anthea Carr. Writers are Joe Lauro and Rick Coleman. Executive Producers are Celia Zantz, Daniel Wheeler and Dick Connette. Director is Joe Lauro. Associate Producers are Haydèe Ellis, Mark Balsam and Sherwin Dunner. Narrator is Clarke Peters.
Watch the documentary below in full: