Fats, Dave and The Big Beat

Glad to hear that this documentary has come to full fruition. Below is the blurb from the film’s Kickstarter page.


The early years (1949-62) of the Fats Domino / Dave Bartholomew collaboration and its roots in the culture and music of New Orleans.

….On the day in 1948 the unlikely paths of Antoine “Fats” Domino and Dave Bartholomew collided at a small Lower Ninth Ward New Orleans night club neither men would have suspected that their collaboration would result in one of the longest (65 years and running) and most successful in American Music history. A collaboration that, by 1962, would sell over 60 million records.

THE BIG BEAT: THE STORY OF FATS DOMINO AND HIS BAND is also the story of how Fats and Dave’s music BECAME Rock N’ Roll and how it effectively broke down the color barriers that paved the way for racial integration through music. We will use recent interviews with Dave, Fats and with surviving band members and rare previously unseen full length vintage performances of the Fats Domino Band (with Dave Bartholomew on Trumpet) performing their early hits to illustrate the story of these two men and the other musicians who made their band among the greatest in Rock N’ roll history…

Several years ago, while doing preliminary research for a possible Fats Domino documentary, I discovered in (of all places!) the French National Archive, a 45 minute live concert film, shot in 1962, of the original Fats Domino band…the same band that recorded with Fats from 1949 to 1962 as well as appearing , with Dave Bartholomew as band leader and director, on over 200 nationally charted singles and 21 gold records – all of which recorded in Cosimo Matasa’s tiny J&M studio on Rampart Street in the city of New Orleans.

To find a 45 minute concert of any African American Rock N’ Roll band filmed in 1962 is almost completely unheard of. Generally the early pioneers of Rock, both black and white, were only allowed short appearances on TV Dance Party or Variety shows or appeared lip syncing one of their current hits in a Hollywood teen movie. It is just unheard of that a 45 minute 1962 live concert should exist..and one featuring with one of the most important and influential Rock N’ Roll bands of all times.

So, with this amazingly exciting footage as the corner stone, we will tell their story. The film will be a performance/documentary as we intend to show the performances in their entirety..no cutting for narrative..just the band performing as it was on that Summer day in 1962. This will be the true story of the early years of Fats Domino; a story that would not exist without Fats’ longtime collaboration with New Orleans Trumpeter, song writer, arranger and band leader Dave Bartholomew; a story that shows the transition of Rhythm & Blues to Rock N’ Roll at the hands of these two pioneers.

Their story is rooted in the culture, traditions and rhythms of their native New Orleans, their home town from the beginning of their lives til this very day. The film will primarily focus on Fats and Dave but will also pay tribute to legendary New Orleans musicians LEE ALLEN, HERB HARDESTY, CORNELIUS “TENOO” COLEMAN, and WALTER “PAPOOSE” NELSON who were long time members of the Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino bands and who played on 100’s of the greatest R&B and Rock N’ Roll records to come out of New Orleans.

Its is also the story of how their music BECAME Rock N’ Roll and effectively broke down the color barriers that paved the way for racial integration through music. We will use previously unseen full length vintage performances of the Fats Domino Band( with Dave Bartholomew on Trumpet) performing their early hits. We will tell the story of the secret history of the birth of Rock N’ Roll..and it came from New Orleans!

Risks and challenges

I think my biggest challenge here is to try to dispel the image that Fats Domino has gained over the years as simply being a jolly oldies act. As Fats has always been extremely shy with interviewers and rarely ever speaks about his music and it’s history he has been overlooked by many scholars and fans of great American “Roots” music. I am hoping my reputation as a Producer/Director of films about important American musicians and the way we put together our trailer will help us gain an audience who will be wiling to reevaluate Fats and his place in American Music while still appealing to his fans that want to hear all the old tunes. By the nature of the great performance footage we have discovered and the interviews we have shot with Fats and Dave and their surviving musicians we will be able to do both.

Regarding production set backs..we have overcome all of those in our 5 years of pre-production and planning for this project. We are still searching for rare pre-1962 photographs of Fats & Dave but we already have 100s!. Often times music clearances can hold up a project of this sort but we have already gotten ball park quotes for these and, with the help of this Kickstarter campaign, be able to pay all the licenses!