Dave Bartholomew, New Orleans music legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, dies at 100
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dave Bartholomew, a giant of New Orleans music and a rock n’ roll pioneer who with Fats Domino co-wrote and produced such classics as “Ain’t That a Shame,” ″I’m Walkin’” and “Let the Four Winds Blow,” has died. He was 100 years old.
Bartholomew, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died Sunday in a hospital in a New Orleans suburb, his eldest son Dave Bartholomew Jr. told The Associated Press.
“His body simply broke down. Daddy was 100 years and six months old. It was just that time,” his son said. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
A trumpet player since childhood and a bandleader and arranger before World War II, Bartholomew befriended Domino in the late 1940s and collaborated with the singer-piano player on dozens of hits that captured Domino’s good-natured appeal, making him one of rock’s first stars and New Orleans a center for popular music. Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, virtually anyone recording in New Orleans ended up performing Bartholomew songs or working with him in the studio.
Dave Bartholomew performs at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell at the Fair Grounds Race Course on May 1, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Douglas Mason, Getty Images)
“Ain’t That A Shame” (originally titled “Ain’t It a Shame”) and “I’m Walkin’” were among Domino’s many top 10 hits, with worldwide sales for Domino eventually topping 60 million records. Domino’s boogie-woogie flare and ringing triplets on piano and Bartholomew’s funky, “Big Beat” arrangements, with their second line drum rhythms and chorus of saxophone players, were so distinctive that covers of such pre-rock standards as “Blueberry Hill” and “My Blue Heaven” sounded no less original than the songs by Domino and Bartholomew.
“Actually, we never sat down to write anything. He and I just played,” Bartholomew told The Times-Picayune in 2010. “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.”
Bartholomew’s credits extended well beyond his work with Domino, who died in 2017. He produced the Lloyd Price hit “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” He wrote (and originally performed) the novelty song “My Ding-a-Ling” that became Chuck Berry’s first No. 1 single in the U.S. The Bartholomew-Earl King ballad “One Night” was a hit for Smiley Lewis and (in a censored version) for Elvis Presley in the 1950s and a highlight of Presley’s 1968 “comeback” Christmas television special. British rocker Dave Edmunds had success in the early 1970s with Bartholomew-King’s “I Hear You Knocking,” while John Lennon, the Four Seasons, and Cheap Trick were among those who recorded “Ain’t That a Shame.”
Bartholomew had his own hit in 1949 with the brassy “Country Boy,” and became New Orleans’ top producer and arranger through his years at Imperial Records, where artists included Domino, Frankie Ford, Chris Kenner, Huey “Piano” Smith and the duo Shirley & Lee. After his initial run with Domino, he led his own band and recorded such albums as “Dave Bartholomew and the Maryland Jazz Band” and “New Orleans Big Beat.” He also joined Domino for international tours and made appearances with Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and other New Orleans artists. Toussaint died in 2015, and Dr. John just recently passed away on June 6.
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