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Dave Bartholomew (1918–2019), New Orleans music legend

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An architect of rock and roll with music partner Fats Domino

Dave Bartholomew was one of the architects of rock and roll, partnering with Fats Domino on early rock classics including co-writing “Ain’t That a Shame.” The New Orleans trumpeter, band leader, producer, songwriter, and arranger was involved in many iconic songs including “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Blueberry Hill,” “I’m Walking,” and “I Hear You Knocking.” Bartholomew was band leader for one of New Orleans premier R&B bands when he became an A&R man for Imperial Records. At Imperial, he brought in Fats Domino, working with him on combining R&B with big band, jazz, and country to create early rock and roll. Bartholomew was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

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Died: Sunday, June 23, 2019 (Who else died on June 23?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 100.


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His surprise at the success of “Blueberry Hill”: Bartholomew told Imperial Records owner Lew Chudd not to release the song. “I said, ‘Man, you’re crazy. That’s a nothing song,’  Two weeks later, Lew called me and said, ‘From now on, you keep making those nothing songs.’ We had just shipped three million. That was unheard of during that time period. He said, ‘Go downtown and pick out any kind of car you want for your bonus.’  I went out and got the biggest Eldorado Cadillac I could find.” —Interview with Offbeat Magazine

What they said about him: “Farewell to the great Dave Bartholomew. Still cannot believe we ever met, let alone performed together — MSG 2005. Rest well with respect and condolences to family and friends and give thanks for all he gave us.” —Elvis Costello

“After giving the world a century of magic and putting in the hard work to create it, Dave Bartholomew has passed. It’s no understatement to say American music would sound very different without his contributions and his talent.” —New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell

“One of the creators of Rock and Roll, a consummate musician/businessman, and a leader in my neighborhood who gave us the vision to travel the world with our culture. Resident of Pontchartrain Park, Dave Bartholomew, Mainstay of New Orleans R&B, Dies at 100.” —Actor Wendell Pierce

Full obituary: Nola.com

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