Thursday, October 26, 2017


There's been plenty of tributes to Fats Domino, the New Orleans piano player/singer/songwriter, who passed today [actually technically it just turned midnight, so yesterday]. So mine will be about his impact on me. I entered adolescence as a piano player in 1955, at the same time rock'n'roll became a thing, with the biggest influences on my musicianship being the piano on Johnny Ace's posthumous hit "Forever My Darling" and everything Fats Domino recorded. In those years I played all his hits whenever I could in bars and at parties, etc. Here's two poems from my last book THE VILLAGE SONNETS that mention Domino.


The first place I played piano professionally
in Manhattan was on the city’s skid row in a
joint with a tourist show called SAMMY’S
BOWERY FOLLIES where ancient weathered
overweight ladies sang like Sophie Tucker,
all brass and sass and volume, and dressed like
19th-century dancehall gals in the Hollywood
Westerns of my boyhood. There were old
men too, vaudeville comics in raggy striped
suits and derbies, and white-haired musicians
playing piano and banjo. My cousin Rosemary
took me and another Irish Catholic girl with
Mary in her name, and her date, certain I’d
pass for eighteen with them in their twenties.


Midway through the show this big bosomed
old lady looked down at our table and asked
who I was, maybe cause I was the youngest
in the club. My cousin said Ricky Nelson.
Invited to the stage I blushed like crazy as the
others insisted I go. Luckily there were no
guitars since I didn’t play one. I knew the Fats
Domino song Nelson covered, so I sat down
at the piano to play and sing I’M WALKIN’
more like Fats than Ricky I hoped, and felt
gratified by the applause. The manager aware
I wasn’t Nelson said he’d pay me to be the
warm-up act for the main show. I did it for a
few months till I discovered progressive jazz.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful, Michael!
Harry Northup

Lally said...

thanks Harry