American Music Masters Moments: Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew is the second installment in a series that shares stories from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters® events through the years. The first post in the series remembered Les Paul. Beginning in 1996 with a tribute to Woody Guthrie, the American Music Masters series has honored artists who've been instrumental in the development of rock and roll with a range of events celebrating their careers. Each AMM brings together musicians from around the world, setting the stage for special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. These are those stories.
For me, the best part of American Music Masters is hearing first-hand stories from the musicians who worked with the honoree. They tell fascinating stories about recording sessions, concerts and late-night card games. When we honored Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew last year, we were able to bring the surviving members of their original band to town: Billy Diamond (bass), Ernest McLean (guitar), and Herb Hardesty (saxophone). It had been years since they all were together, and listening to them sitting around, reminiscing with Dave Bartholomew and Cosimo Matassa, who recorded them all at J&M Studies in New Orleans, was a highlight of the week.
This week we received the sad news that Billy Diamond had passed away in Los Angeles. In addition to playing bass, Diamond was the road manager for the band. He also gave Antoine Domino the nickname “Fats.” He remembered every Cleveland venue that the band played in the 1950s: “I like to take care of the money.” It’s so important to get these stories on tape for posterity. Rest in peace, Billy Diamond – it was an honor to meet you and your daughter Tracie.
This year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum pays tribute to Aretha Franklin, including an interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Spooner Oldham, who played keyboards on Aretha Franklin's first five albums for Atlantic Records: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Aretha Arrives, Lady Soul, Aretha Now and Soul '69; and interviews with Cissy Houston and Bernard Purdie, both long-time friends and collaborators of Franklin's. For more information about the exciting week of events, click here.
WATCH: Billy Diamond talks about the trials and tribulations of being road manager for Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew