Fats Domino: 12 Essential Songs

From "The Fat Man" to "Blueberry Hill" and beyond, we look back at the late New Orleans hitmaker's finest

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"Jambalaya" (1961)

This Hank Williams song had become an instant standard – after Williams took it to Number One in 1952, Jo Stafford quickly followed with a sappy pop version that made it to Number Three. Jerry Lee Lewis subjected it to a whole lot of shaking in 1956, but it wasn't until Fats took hold of it in November of 1961 that anyone actually connected to New Orleans had a go. In his hands it goes from a novelty song to a fully felt description of a life well lived – you could say Fats Domino's entire career had been dedicated to big fun on the bayou. Over a horn section that swells and kicks, Fats lays down a steady-rolling rhythm that clears space for one of his most relaxed vocals, near to crooning. A B side to "I Hear You Knocking," his cover went to Number 30. The following year came Ray Charles' Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, but Fats was there first.

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