Fats Domino, the pioneering singer-songwriter behind such rock hits as “Blueberry Hill” and “I’m Walking,” has died at the age of 89. The New Orleans native embarked on his long, illustrious music career as a child when he dropped out of the fourth grade in order to pursue piano playing full time. By the 1950s, songs like “Ain’t That a Shame” made waves on the R&B and pop charts, paving the way for other black rock ’n’ rollers of the era, including Chuck Berry, and influencing everyone from the Beatles to Elton John.
During Hurricane Katrina, the musician, who resided in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and refused to leave in the wake of the storm, was presumed to have died in the flooding. It was later reported that Domino and his family had been rescued from their home by the Coast Guard. In 2006, he released his final album Alive and Kickin’, the proceeds of which went toward the restoration and preservation of New Orleans’ musical culture.