Domino released a series of hit songs with producer and co-writer Dave Bartholomew, saxophonists Herbert Hardesty and Alvin “Red” Tyler, bassist Frank Fields, and drummers Earl Palmer and Smokey Johnson. Other notable and long-standing musicians in Domino’s band were saxophonists Reggie Houston, Lee Allen, and Fred Kemp, Domino’s trusted bandleader.
Domino finally crossed into the pop mainstream with “Ain’t That A Shame” (1955), which hit the Top Ten, though Pat Boone characteristically hit No. 1 with a milder cover of the song that received wider radio airplay in a racially-segregated era. Domino eventually had 37 Top 40 singles.
Domino’s debut album, Carry On Rockin, was released under the Imperial imprint, No. 9009, in November 1955 and subsequently reissued as Rock and Rollin’ with Fats Domino in 1956.Combining a number of his hits along with some tracks that had not yet been released as singles, the album went on under its alternate title to reach No. 17 on the “Pop Albums” chart.
His 1956 version of the 1940 Vincent Rose, Al Lewis and Larry Stock song, “Blueberry Hill” reached No. 2 in the Top 40, was No. 1 on the R&B charts for 11 weeks, and was his biggest hit. “Blueberry Hill” sold more than 5 million copies worldwide in 1956–57.
The song had earlier been recorded by Gene Autry, and Louis Armstrong among many others. He had further hit singles between 1956 and 1959, including “When My Dreamboat Comes Home” (Pop No. 14), “I’m Walkin'” (Pop No. 4), “Valley of Tears” (Pop No. 8), “It’s You I Love” (Pop No. 6), “Whole Lotta Loving” (Pop No. 6), “I Want to Walk You Home” (Pop No. 8), and “Be My Guest” (Pop No. 8).
Domino appeared in two films released in 1956: Shake, Rattle & Rock! and The Girl Can’t Help It. On December 18, 1957, his hit “The Big Beat” was featured on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
On November 2, 1956, a riot broke out at Domino’s show in Fayetteville, NC, with police resorting to tear gas to break up the unruly crowd. Domino jumped out of a window to avoid the melee; he and two other band members were slightly injured.
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