Rock Pioneer Dave Bartholomew Dies at 100
Rock pioneer Dave Bartholomew, who worked closely with Fats Domino and wrote Chuck Berry's only No. 1, “My Ding-A-Ling,” died at the age of 100, his family said.
He celebrated his centenary on Dec. 24 last year after a career that included induction in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
“His body simply broke down. Daddy was 100 years and six months old. It was just that time,” his son Dave Bartholomew Jr. told the Associated Press. He is survived by his wife, eight children and 25 grandchildren.
Inspired by Louis Armstrong, the New Orleans-based Bartholomew began playing trumpet at the age of five and started working on the big-band circuit in the ‘30s, rising to the position of bandleader and arranger. In the following decade he started his partnership with Domino, which made the singer and pianist a household name with hits including “Ain't That a Shame,” “I’m Walking” and others. In their initial 14-year period of collaboration from 1949 until 1963, they achieved more than 100 chart entries.
“Actually, we never sat down to write anything. He and I just played,” Bartholomew said in 2010. “I remember one time on ‘I’m in Love Again,’ we went outside and somebody said, ‘Don’t let the dog bite you.’ So we come back and put that in the song.”
His material was covered by Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone and many others, and he also had a handful of hit singles on his own, the most successful being “Country Boy,” which reached No. 14 on the R&B chart in 1950.
Watch Fats Domino Perform ‘I’m Walking’
As a result of his writing, performing and producing talents, most artists working in the New Orleans area at the time had some form of interaction with Bartholomew, including Smiley Lewis, Shirley and Lee, Huey "Piano" Smith and Lloyd Price.
“Rock ’n’ roll, R&B, it’s only a name,” he once said. “We started rock ’n’ roll. They just changed the name. Alan Freed was the one who changed the name. We played his shows. From 10 in the morning to midnight every day. Kids would come from all over the world. And Fats was the headliner for everything. We played for Dick Clark in Philadelphia. Steve Allen, Ed Sullivan, all of those shows. Put all that together and it’s a really good life.”
Watch Elvis Presley Perform Dave Bartholomew's 'One Night’