Antoine “Fats” Domino, one of the pioneers of early rock’n’roll music known for his unique style as a pianist and performer, died Tuesday. An official confirmed to CNN that Domino died at the age of 89 in Louisiana due to natural causes.
Domino was known for such hits as “Ain’t That a Shame, “Blueberry Hill” and “Blue Monday.” His influence on the music industry continues to be felt to this day, as he’s played a role in helping the careers of stars like Paul McCartney and Randy Newman. His musical work throughout his lifetime helped make his hometown of New Orleans one of the the most popular cities for music in the United States.
Domino was married to Rosemary Hall for 60 years, and they were together until her death in 2008.
Here’s what you need to know about Fats and Rosemary:
1. Fats & Rosemary Got Married in 1948 & Had 8 Children Together
Fats and Rosemary met when he was starting up in the music industry, and they got married in 1948. They had eight children together, all whose names start with the letter “A”: Antonio, Adonica, Antoinette, Andre, Andrea, Anola, Anatole and Antoine III.
In 1991 while touring in England, Fats suffered a health scare that changed the rest of his life. He was told by a doctor in Sheffield that “performing live could severely damage his health,” The Independent reported in 1995.
Fats was 67-years old at the time and was rushed to the hospital while he was on a tour with Chuck Berry and Little Richard. It was the first night of their tour, but he was removed from the show on doctor’s orders.
“Towards the end of his set he started to feel very unwell and he knew that something was wrong,” a statement from his promoter Jennie Halsall to The Independent said. “Doctors confirmed that Fats had a serious infection and he has been told that he must rest. They have given him strict instructions not to perform live until his condition improves or it will severely damage his health.”
At that point, Fats already toured the globe for over 20 years and decided that it was in his best interest to live at home from then on, rarely leaving New Orleans. There, he and Rosemary lived with their eight children off of royalties that he received from his discography of recordings.
2. Fats & His Family Were Reported Missing After Hurricane Katrina & Feared Dead
Of course, New Orleans is the city that Hurricane Katrina ravaged in August 2005 when water from the Mississippi River broke through levees and caused catastrophic damage to the city. As Katrina approached, Fats, Rosemary and their children were urged to leave the city. But instead, they decided to stay at home with their family partly because Rosemary was in poor health.
After the storm, his home and the surrounding area were badly flooded. In the recovery effort, someone thought he was dead and spray painted, “RIP Fats. You will be missed” on their home. In the days that followed, his talent agent announced that he hadn’t heard from Fats or his family since the hurricane struck. Hours after issuing the statement, Fats and his family were rescued from their home by a United States Coast Guard helicopter.
According to The Washington Post, the family was taken to a shelter in Baton Rouge and happened to be picked up by JaMarcus Russell, the former No. 1 overall selection in 2007 NFL Draft who was the starter for Louisiana State University at the time.
Russell reportedly let them stay at his apartment, where they slept for three nights on his couch.
“We lost everything,” Fats told The Post.
Months later, work to repair his home during the reconstruction phase started, and his family lived temporarily in nearby Harvey, Louisiana. A water-damaged piano from his home was donated to the Louisiana State Museum and sits in a section that remembers Katrina.
3. Rosemary Died in April 2008 After Health Issues
Rosemary was one of five Hall children and was born in New Orleans on March 28, 1930. It’s unclear how the couple met in the first place. However, after 60 years of marriage, Rosemary died unexpectedly in April 2008. She was 77-years old. Her exact cause of death wasn’t reported, but it’s been noted in numerous publications that she had deteriorating health for years. Her death “dealt (Fats) another blow,” NOLA.com reported in 2013.
“He’s missing her,” Charisse Smith, the Dominos’ granddaughter, told KSLA. “My grandmother was there for him every day, all day. Her presence is definitely missed.”
4. Fats Wrote a Song Dedicated to Rosemary During the 1960s
After 15 years of marriage, Fats dedicated a song to Rosemary which appeared on 1963’s Here Comes…Fats Domino. The song has the typical Domino vibe to it on the piano and has lyrics dedicated to his wife.
“If you see Rosemary, tell her I’m comin’ home to stay,” he sings during the song. “Tell her I’m tired of travlin’ out here, can’t go on this way.”
The song seems to reference Fats’ time spent away from home and his family while on tour.
“Every nite when I’m travlin’ meet a friend,” he sings. “Tell ’em I’m comin’ home to stay. So, if you see Rosemary, tell her, tell her I’m on my way. When I get back home, I’m gonna hold Rosemary in my arms. Never more to travel, never more to roam.”
There were two versions of the song: an instrumental and one with the lyrics referenced above.
5. Fats & His Family Have a Net Worth of Around $8 Million
Although Fats rarely toured in his later years, he had a reported 2017 net worth of about $8 million, according to TheRichest.com.
Fats found his way into the music industry when he was discovered by a New Orleans band leader named Billy Diamond. He discovered Fats in 1947, one year before he and Rosemary got married. The climax of his musical career was during the 1960s and 1970s and helped make him a musical legend.
Over his lifetime, Fats received all sorts of awards and recognition from groups. In 1987, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was presented the National Medal of Arts by former President Bill Clinton in 1998.