Actually, celebrating his rotundness wasn’t Antoine Domino’s priority that day in 1949; he’d cut a single for Imperial called “Detroit City Blues,” and he and producer Dave Bartholomew came up with a little throwaway for the B-side. He’d play that throwaway for the rest of his life:
Much is made of the fact that Fats placed thirty-seven songs in Billboard’s Top 40 but never quite made Number One. A lot of this can be blamed on radio-format apartheid: “Ain’t That a Shame,” which peaked at #10, was drowned out on the airwaves by a blandified cover by Pat Boone, which soared to the top. According to one story, one of the other trade papers (not Billboard) explained why they factored airplay into their chart computations: if they scored simply on sales, said their rep, the entire Top Ten would consist of black acts. And really, do you know anyone who bought Boone’s version? (Other than me, I mean.)
Besides, if we add up the entire Hot 100, Fats wins, 66-60. His last entry, #100 for two weeks in 1968, was a cover of a Beatles song that Paul McCartney said was inspired by Fats. You can’t close the circle any better than that:
Farewell, Fat Man. Rock and roll heaven will make good use of your voice, your piano, and every one of your two hundred (as if) pounds.