Dave Bartholomew, Songwriter and Fats Domino Collaborator, Dead at 100
New Orleans legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee co-wrote “Ain’t That a Shame,” produced Domino’s “Blueberry Hill”
Dave Bartholomew, the New Orleans musician, Fats Domino collaborator and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who co-wrote the R&B classic “Ain’t That a Shame,” has died at the age of 100.
Bartholomew died Sunday at a New Orleans-area hospital, his son Dave Bartholomew Jr. confirmed to the Associated Press. “His body simply broke down. Daddy was 100 years and six months old. It was just that time,” Bartholomew Jr. said.
A trumpeter, bandleader, producer and arranger who worked with artists like Domino, Lloyd Price, Smiley Lewis and Shirley & Lee, the Louisiana-born Bartholomew had a lasting impact on both the music of New Orleans and R&B of the Fifties, which in turn inspired the rock music that emerged in the early Sixties.
His 14-year partnership with Domino, which began in 1949 when the two co-wrote and recorded Domino’s career-launching hit “The Fat Man,” yielded R&B gems like “I’m in Love Again,” “I’m Walkin’,” “Valley of Tears,” “My Girl Josephine,” “Whole Lotta Loving” and the classic “Ain’t That a Shame,” which would later be covered by artists like Cheap Trick, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and more.
“We never sat down to write anything,” Bartholomew told the Times-Picayune of his collaborations with Domino. “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 is credited with adding the brassy arrangements, inspired by the “Big Beat ” sound of New Orleans, to Domino’s famed renditions of “Blueberry Hill” and “My Blue Heaven.” Both “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill” were named to Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.
An inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Bartholomew penned hits like Chuck Berry’s Number One novelty hit “My Ding-A-Ling,” “Blue Monday” (popularized by Domino and covered by Dr. John, Buddy Holly and others) and “One Night,” a Smiley Lewis hit that Elvis Presley recorded as part of his 1968 comeback special. Bartholomew also produced Lloyd Price’s 1952 hit “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and co-wrote “Witchcraft,” a hit for the Spiders that Presley covered in 1963.
After a collaborative hiatus that stretched the Seventies and Eighties, Bartholomew and Domino reunited at the 1999 Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. In 2014, the pair both attended a screening of the documentary The Big Beat about their impact on music. Domino died in October 2017. Bartholomew was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 as the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award.