Dave Bartholomew, credited by many with creating early rock ‘n roll in his work with Fats Domino, has died at age 100 at East Jefferson General Hospital in New Orleans, his son said. He was 100 years old.
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, Bartholomew was a trumpeter, producer, arranger, songwriter, and bandleader. He was the longtime collaborator of Fats Domino, helping him write, arrange and perform some of the nation’s biggest hits back in the 1950’s and 60’s.
He was a key behind the scenes man at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Recording Studio, matching musicians and producing some of New Orleans most memorable music by artists including Smiley Lewis, Snooks Eaglin, Little Sonny Jones, Pee Wee Crayton, Shirley and Lee, Frankie Ford and Sugarboy Crawford.
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Bartholomew nurtured Domino’s career, letting him sit-in with his band when Domino was just a teenager. He invited Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, to hear Domino in a club on North Rampart Street. Chudd was impressed and signed him to a contract.
The first Domino song, a version of Junker Blues that was renamed “The Fat Man,” marked the first collaboration with Bartholomew. It was considered a landmark in New Orleans music, a meld of jump blues and rhythm-heavy style that was made for dancing.
The two went on to produce such hits as “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday,” “I Hear You Knocking” and “Whole Lotta Lovin’.”
In an interview with the Times-Picayune newspaper, the two discussed their musical collaboration.
“Actually, we never sat down to write anything,” Bartholomew said. “He and I just played. If we started a song and we got lost … I remember one time on ‘‘I’m in Love Again,’ we went outside and somebody said, ‘Don’t let the dog bite you.’ So we come back and put that in the song. We always had an awful lot of rhythm in our world, plus the blues, and New Orleans being known for its second-line, we considered that, too. With that, and what we added to it, we were very lucky. It went over big.”
Bartholomew was born in Edgard, Louisiana on Christmas Eve in 1918.
He also worked for Trumpet Records and Mercury Records, before establishing his own label, Broadmoor Records, in 1967.
Survivors include his wife, Rhea Bartholomew; five sons, Dave Jr., Don, Ron and Darrell Bartholomew, and Alvin LeBeau, all of New Orleans; three daughters, Deborah Hubbard and Diane Wilson, both of New Orleans; and Jacqueline Temple of Atlanta; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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