Fats Domino: 25 Favorite Recordings

Antoine “Fats” Domino was one of my early rock and roll heroes. During my younger years in the 50's and early 60's, I purchased mostly singles. My record collection was dominated by the 78s and 45s of my favorite artists of the rock and roll’s first decade: Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly along with the Crickets, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ricky Nelson, the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, and, of course, Fats Domino.

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Springsteen Pt. 5 - Born In The USA

During the year-long River Tour, Bruce Springsteen had become very interested in America's history; a subject that he said bored him in school. He read several acclaimed books on the topic that seemed to hold some of the essential pieces to a question he was posing in some of his songs; what does it mean to be an American?

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Rick Nelson Pt. 4: "The Crash"

In 1976 Rick Nelson’s new manager, Greg McDonald, landed him a new recording contract with Epic Records. He also learned from the Nelson family’s longtime representatives that Rick was in financial trouble. McDonald discovered that Rick’s music career with the Stone Canyon Band had actually lost money over the years and he was nearly broke.

Despite not earning, Rick’s family had an extravagant lifestyle: enjoying expensive vacations, buying sports cars, extensive renovations to homes, and reckless spending by both Rick and Kris. Neither had much financial sense, purchases were always paid for by business managers. Rick didn’t even write a check until he was in his 40’s.

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Rick Nelson Pt. 3: "Stone Canyon Days"

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the genre known as country rock began. During rock and roll’s first decade, recordings by country artists including Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Marty Robbins, to name just a few, were regularly found on Billboard’s Hot 100. That seemed to change somewhat after the British Invasion, but the Beatles had recorded a number of country covers including Carl Perkins’ “Honey Don’t” and Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally”, as well as original compositions like “I’ll Cry Instead”, and “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” as early as 1964. In 1966, the Rolling Stones included their first country song, “High and Dry”, on the Aftermath album. That same year, Bob Dylan recorded almost the entire Blonde on Blonde album in Nashville, using some of country music’s top studio musicians.

Rick Nelson’s two country music albums, Bright Lights and Country Music from 1966 and Country Fever from 1967 would seem to have put him at the cutting edge, but that was not the case. Rick was no longer part of the music mainstream, and neither of the albums charted. His only glimpse of success from his country music experiment was his cover of Doug Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man”. The single reached # 76 on Billboard’s Country Music Chart, but the credit for being one of the originators of country rock would, for the most part, go to others.

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Rick Nelson Pt. 2: "The Pop Years"

In 1960, Rick Nelson was signed to co-star in a World War II-era comedy adventure film called The Wackiest Ship in the Army with Jack Lemmon that was filmed in Hawaii. The plot involved Lemmon having to take a dilapidated sailing ship into enemy waters on a secret mission. Because he was already signed to do the film, Rick had to turn down John Wayne’s offer to appear in The Alamo. Rick’s part went to Frankie Avalon.

Rick played Ensign Tommy Hanson, the only member of the motley crew, besides Lemmon, who knows anything about working a ship with sails. Ozzie insisted that the script provide an opportunity for Rick to sing a 1940’s song in a scene at the Officer’s Club in Pearl Harbor. Rick performed “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans”, a song that was first made popular by Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong in 1947. Watch Rick's performance of the song in a clip from the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ1GvbjpV-s

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Rick Nelson Pt. 1: "Rockabilly Ricky"

When rock and roll critics and historians first began looking back at the history of the genre in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Rick Nelson’s talents as a rock and roller were greatly undervalued. Influential Village Voice critic Robert Christgau called him “An inspired fake” and the first edition of the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll relegated him to the Teen Idols chapter instead of the Rockabilly chapter where he rightly belonged.

Today, the early teen idol era is often thought of as consisting of shallow, deriviative songs with little or no lasting value. Nelson was stung by being lumped into that category more than all of the negative reviews he ever received put together. He was distressed when he saw his photo surrounded by singers who were recorded more because of their looks and hairstyles rather than talent. In a 1972 interview with the New York Times, Rick had this to say: "A lot of people try to equate me with guys like Frankie Avalon and Fabian, but in the old days I sold a lot of records over a period of time, and you can't sustain that by being just another pretty face."

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The Blue Light Turned-On Midland

The Blue Light was an important mid-Michigan teen dance center that featured major rock and roll acts, many of the state’s important regional bands, as well as a host of young garage bands formed in the wake of the British Invasion. The venue was the brainchild of Hersh Goodwald: a chemical engineer, businessman, part-time disc jockey, and avid record collector, who formed a partnership with some other investors to buy a building and transform it into Midland, Michigan’s first, and most important, nightclub for young people.

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