Fats Domino is a musical genius. May his everlasting funk rock in perpetuity. His pioneering rock n rollin boogie woogie rhythm n blues have helped make American music the leading force in global pop culture.
Were it not for his monumental recorded output through Lew Chudd’s Imperial Records, and the network of indie distributors around the U.S. who promoted, marketed, and sold that music, he may have remained a New Orleans barroom phenom for life.
Henry Stone, who made records for fun, but sold other labels for a living, would listen to samples sent by Chudd to his Miami office, place them on local radio through his promotion cronies, and whatever got the best reaction from listeners, he would order from the manufacturer in the hundreds, and sometimes in the thousands, sell through the product, and buy more.
Of Chudd, Stone once said, “I sat down and wrote him a letter and told him how great the Imperial label was and how great I was doin’ with Ricky Nelson and Fats Domino.”
Whereas African-American artists were sometimes ripped off through the unfair deals made with their record labels, they often maintained warm and thankful relationships with the distributors who actually got their music on the radio, exposed their sounds to the masses through the most popular shows, got their records into jukeboxes, and stores, and helped generate excitement for and top billing for their live performances, which is where they more often than not made most of their money.
Henry Stone was known and respected for his Florida distribution stronghold by rhythm n blues, jazz, and gospel artists across the country, and Fats Domino, who was popular in Miami’s Overtown, and venues throughout the state, benefitted from Stone’s promotion of his music.
Stone would have been powerless to make a difference had the music not been so great, but since Fats Domino’s signature sound, song choice, and compositions resonated so well with small and large population samples, radio exposure, and marketing helped catapult his fame and acclaim.
Shout out to Fats Domino for being one of the best to ever do it, and Henry Stone for making sure that everybody in Florida knew it.
©Jacob Katel and ©Henry Stone Music USA Inc. All Rights Reserved.