Dave Bartholomew, Longtime Fats Domino Collaborator & Rock ‘N’ Roll Pioneer, Dies At 100

Hugo van Gelderen Wikimedia Commons

Dave Bartholomew, a New Orleans legend and one of the early pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll, has died at age 100. Bartholomew, who was best known for his work with Fats Domino as co-writer and producer of some of the biggest rock hits of the 1950s and ’60s, died Sunday at East Jefferson General Hospital in New Orleans, Deadline reports.

Bartholomew— who co-wrote/produced such Fats Domino hits as “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I’m Walkin’,” and “The Fat Man,” and penned Chuck Berry’s only No. 1, “My Ding-A-Ling”— died exactly six months after his 100th birthday celebration, his son Dave Bartholomew Jr. told The Associated Press.

“His body simply broke down. Daddy was 100 years and six months old. It was just that time.”

Dave Bartholomew’s death comes less than three weeks after the death of fellow New Orleans music legend Dr. John.

Bartholomew’s lengthy career included inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. The legendary songwriter and producer worked with Smiley Lewis, T-Bone Walker, Shirley Lee, and more, but during his 14-year collaboration period with Fats Domino, from 1949 to 1963, the duo wrote more than 40 hits for Imperial Records.

Dave Bartholomew charted a few hit singles on his own, including “Country Boy,” which reached No. 14 on the R&B chart in 1950. Bartholomew, a lifelong trumpet player, also worked for Trumpet Records and Mercury Records before launching his own label, Broadmoor Records, in 1967.

After Dave Bartholomew’s death was announced, many famous friends, including singer-songwriters Billy Vera and Elvis Costello, took to social media to remember the music legend and his influence in the rock ‘n’ roll genre.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, while Dave Bartholomew was known as a mainstay of New Orleans R&B, he once said he and Fats Domino “started” rock ‘n’ roll.

“Rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, it’s only a name. We started rock ‘n’ roll. They just changed the name.”

While the longtime friends didn’t collaborate in the studio in the 1980s and ’90s, Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino reunited onstage in 1999 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 2014, Bartholomew and Domino attended the New Orleans premiere of Joe Lauro’s The Big Beat, a documentary about their work. Fats Domino died in October 2017.

Dave Bartholomew is survived by his wife Rhea, five sons, three daughters, and 25 grandchildren. No memorial service plans have been announced for the music legend.