Rock & Roll Books
Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n' Roll
by Rick Coleman
Da Capo, 400 pp., $26.95
Since rock & roll history books tend to favor Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Rick Coleman's first-of-its-kind biography of Antoine "Fats" Domino restores the legacy of a colossal musical and cultural juggernaut. From the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, a young Domino teamed with composer Dave Bartholomew at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios to forge the rhythmic signature of most of the rock & roll to come during the late Fifties. "There were at least three layers of rhythm in every Domino record, including the piano triplets, some variation of Bartholomew's bassline played by various instruments, horns riffing in the background, and the drums usually delivering a pounding two-four backbeat, which made the rhythms virtually irresistible." Universal hits "Ain't That a Shame," "Blueberry Hill," and "I'm Walkin'" thrust Domino to the symbolic forefront of an emerging Civil Rights movement. Following the lead of fellow New Orleans R&B giant Louis Jordan, Domino often refused to play segregated halls as his resounding performances typically yielded the obliteration of social taboos blacks and whites shared the dance floor and on occasion rioted. The author traces Domino's firebrand and mother's bloodline back to Haiti where the model of the revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture inspires the full breadth of his Creole upbringing. Both an innovator and an instigator, Fats Domino's unbridled mojo literally dictated the course of American cultural history.