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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Fats Domino, the amiable rock 'n' roll pioneer whose steady, pounding piano and easy baritone helped change popular music while honoring the traditions of the Crescent City, has died. Mark Bone, chief investigator with the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, coroner's office, said Domino died of natural causes early Tuesday. He stood 5-feet-5 and weighed more than 200 pounds, with a wide, boyish smile and a haircut as flat as an album cover.
But Domino sold more than 110 million records, with hits including "Blueberry Hill," ''Ain't That a Shame" — originally titled "Ain't It A Shame"— and other standards of rock 'n' roll.
"He's warm, fun-loving, spiritual, creative and humble. As a youth, he taught himself popular piano styles — ragtime, blues and boogie-woogie.
You don't get more New Orleans than that."The son of a violin player, Antoine Domino Jr. He quit school at age 14, and worked days in a factory while playing and singing in local juke joints at night.
"All the girls, they love me, 'cause I know my way around."In 1955, he broke into the white pop charts with "Ain't it a Shame," covered blandly by Pat Boone as "Ain't That a Shame" and rocked out decades later under that title by Cheap Trick and others.
Domino enjoyed a parade of successes through the early 1960s, including "Be My Guest" and "I'm Ready." Another hit, "I'm Walkin,'" became the debut single for Ricky Nelson.
It turned out that he and his family were rescued by boat from his home, where he lost three pianos and dozens of gold and platinum records, along with other memorabilia.He was one of the first 10 honorees named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Rolling Stone Record Guide likened him to Benjamin Franklin, the beloved old man of a revolutionary movement."We've lowered the flag and we're playing his music all day," said Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."Fats is the godfather of rock and roll," Harris said."On behalf of the people of New Orleans, I am eternally grateful for his life and legacy," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release Wednesday morning."Fats Domino added to New Orleans' standing in the world, and what people know and appreciate about New Orleans.""I can't wrap my arms around him being gone," said Quint Davis, producer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and a decades-long friend of Domino.One of his show-stopping stunts was playing the piano while standing, throwing his body against it with the beat of the music and bumping the grand piano across the stage.His 1956 version of "Blueberry Hill" was selected for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry of historic sound recordings worthy of preservation.