By: Darryl Noble
If you are learning the piano and are looking for some keyboard standouts to emulate, you might take a YouTube look at Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Back in the day, during the 1950s to be precise, they were some of the most talented pianists that energized a generation with their rock and roll beat and traditional acoustical sound. There were no pre-programmed keyboards or recorded tracks in those days, just a keyboard and a microphone. Their names are not well known today, and their original sound and style having been replaced by the electronic keyboard and synthesizer, yet their charismatic playing can still be appreciated through various online sources and media outlets. Three of the most talented were Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Fats Domino is probably best remembered for his hit Blueberry Hill. Other tunes such as I’m Walkin’ and I’m in Love Again were also extremely popular. Born and raised in New Orleans, Fats is best known by his nickname rather than his given name of Antoine Dominique Domino, Jr. Almost all of his hits came with Imperial Records, a relationship that lasted for more than a decade. Fats became less popular with the changes in musical taste began to dominate in the late 60’s. A change in style and a new record label did nothing to stem his slide. Yet the music of his prime still reverberates and many artists acknowledge his influence on their craft. Fats is an inaugural year Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.
Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) He had a quick succession of hits between 1955 and ’57 that included Long Tall Sally , Tutti-Frutti and Good Golly, Miss Molly. Many consider him one of the prime influences in the rise of rock and roll. A native of Georgia, his unique contribution has been considered a melding of the best musical traditions of the South, including black gospel music and the blues. His influence can be seen in the performances of many musical talents even in the hip hop generation. Little Richard retired from rock and roll to enroll in Bible College and, when he returned to performing in the early 1960’s musical tastes were beginning to change. Nevertheless, Little Richard is considered one of major icons of Rock and Roll and his influence still lingers. Like Fats Domino, he also was an initial inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jerry Lee Lewis
Born in Louisiana, Jerry Lee Lewis is best remembered today for his signature hits A Whole Lot Of Shaking Going On, Breathless and Great Balls of Fire. He claimed that his strongest influence came from a black, roadside juke joint that was a popular local hangout. He also learned to play piano with his cousins Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart. A powerful musician, his career took an abrupt downturn when he decided to marry a 13-year-old cousin. It took years to recover from the scandal, but Jerry Lee recovered in later years and was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He is also an inductee of The Rockabilly Hall of Fame.