Rock 'n' Roll Pioneer and Hall of Famer Dave Bartholomew Dies at 100

Dave Bartholomew, a New Orleans music legend and early rock ‘n’ roll pioneer known for his collaboration with the late Fats Domino, passed away on Sunday, June 23. He was 100.

Bartholomew’s eldest son, Dave Bartholomew Jr., confirmed the news to the Associated Press, adding that the Songwriters Hall of Famer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer died in a suburban New Orleans hospital.

“His body simply broke down. Daddy was 100 years and six months old. It was just that time,” Dave Jr. told the outlet. The family is yet to make funeral arrangements.

Bartholomew, a songwriter, trumpet player, arranger, composer, producer, and bandleader, is one of the pioneers of New Orleans rhythm and blues and early rock ‘n’ roll according to the New York Times.

It was while on this job that Bartholomew discovered Domino, who died in 2017.

Although Bartholomew was mostly behind the scenes in creating music masterpieces, his influence is felt till this day in classic hits like Domino’s “Ain’t It a Shame” (aka “Ain’t That A Shame”), “Blue Monday,” and “I’m Walkin’”

Under Bartholomew’s direction (production & co-writing), Domino scored 65 singles on the Billboard pop chart from 1955 to 1964 and surpassed 60 million records in worldwide sales, reported the NY Times and AP.

Beyond his work with Domino, the Louisiana-born artist also made his mark on Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” which he produced. The song went on to become the top R&B hit of 1952, according to Bartholomew’s bio in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Shirley & Lee’s “Let The Good Times Roll” and Smiley Lewis’ “I Hear You Knocking” also bear the telltale signs of his producing and arranging genius.

Bartholomew wrote and originally performed “My Ding-a-Ling,” (titled “Little Girl Sing Ding-a-Ling”) the track that became Chuck Berry’s first No. 1 single in the US and many of the songs he worked on have been covered by music greats such as Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Cheap Trick among others.

Bartholomew was born on December 24, 1918, in Edgard, Louisiana and grew up playing the trumpet with the most popular bands at the time.

After learning how to score and arrange music while serving in the Army during World War II, Bartholomew returned home to form his own band.

In 1949, Bartholomew scored his own hit, “Country Boy” and shortly after, met Lew Chudd, owner of Imperial Records, who hired him as a talent scout.

It was while on this job that Bartholomew discovered Domino, who died in 2017. The duo’s first collaboration, 1949’s “The Fat Man” was a hit and only the beginning of a charmed relationship that would produce some of the best sounds till date.

According to the Times, Bartholomew is survived by his wife, Rhea; daughters Diane Wilson and Jacqueline Temple; sons Dave Jr., Don, and Ron; three stepchildren, a sister, 25 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.

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