Bartholomew in 1977
|Birth name||Davis Bartholomew|
|Also known as||David Louis Bartholomew|
|Born||December 24, 1918|
Edgard, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||June 23, 2019 (aged 100)|
Metairie, Louisiana, U.S.
|Genres||Rhythm and blues, big band, swing, rock and roll, Dixieland|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, bandleader, composer, arranger|
|Labels||De Luxe, Imperial, Broadmoor|
|Associated acts||Fats Domino|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1940–1945|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
David Louis Bartholomew (December 24, 1918 – June 23, 2019) was an American musician, bandleader, composer, arranger, and record producer. He was prominent in the music of New Orleans throughout the second half of the 20th century. Originally a trumpeter, he was active in many musical genres, including rhythm and blues, big band, swing music, rock and roll, New Orleans jazz, and Dixieland. In his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was cited as a key figure in the transition from jump blues and swing to R&B and as "one of the Crescent City's greatest musicians and a true pioneer in the rock and roll revolution."
Many musicians have recorded Bartholomew's songs, but his partnership with Fats Domino produced some of his greatest successes. In the mid-1950s they wrote more than forty hits for Imperial Records, including the Billboard number one pop chart hit "Ain't That a Shame". Bartholomew's other hit songs as a composer include "I Hear You Knocking", "Blue Monday", "I'm Walkin'", "My Ding-A-Ling", and "One Night". He was a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
He was born Davis Bartholomew on December 24, 1918 in Edgard, Louisiana, to Mary and Louis Bartholomew. He learned to play his father's preferred instrument, the tuba, then took up the trumpet, taught to him by Peter Davis, who had also tutored Louis Armstrong. Around 1933, Bartholomew moved with his parents to New Orleans, where he played in local jazz and brass bands, including Papa Celestin's, as well as Fats Pichon's band on a Mississippi riverboat. He took charge of Pichon's band in 1941, and after a stay in Jimmie Lunceford's band joined the US Army during World War II. He developed writing and arranging skills as a member of the 196th Army Ground Forces Band.
Early music career
At the end of the war Bartholomew returned to New Orleans and, by November 1945, had started leading his own dance band, Dave Bartholomew and the Dew Droppers, named after a now-defunct local hotel and nightclub, the Dew Drop Inn. The band became locally popular, described as "the bedrock of R&B in the city," and, according to the music historian Robert Palmer, was a "model for early rock 'n' roll bands the world over." A local journalist wrote of the band in June 1946, "Putting it mildly, they make the house 'rock.'" In 1947, they were invited by club owner Don Robey to perform in Houston, Texas, where Bartholomew met Lew Chudd, the founder of Imperial Records.
Bartholomew and his band made their first recordings, including "She's Got Great Big Eyes", at Cosimo Matassa's New Orleans studio for De Luxe Records in September 1947. Their first hit was "Country Boy", credited to Dave Bartholomew and His Orchestra, which reached number 14 on the national Billboard R&B chart in early 1950. Prominent members of the band, besides Bartholomew on trumpet and occasional vocals, were the saxophonists Alvin Tyler, Herb Hardesty, and Clarence Hall, the bass player Frank Fields, the guitarist Ernest McLean, the pianist Salvador Doucette, and the drummer Earl Palmer. They were later joined by the saxophonist Lee Allen.
Imperial Records and Fats Domino
Two years after they had first met in Houston, Lew Chudd asked Bartholomew to become Imperial's A&R man in New Orleans. Bartholomew produced Imperial's first national hits, "3 x 7 = 21", written by him and recorded by the female singer Jewel King, and "The Fat Man", recorded in December 1949 by a young pianist, Fats Domino. "The Fat Man"—based on the drug-themed "Junker's Blues", with lyrics rewritten by Bartholomew and Domino to attract a wider audience—reached number 2 on the R&B chart and eventually sold over one million copies, kicking off Domino's career. Both records featured Bartholomew's band, as did a succession of further hits through the 1950s. Bartholomew's "genial, steady-rolling arrangements" contributed to the music's success. Cosimo Matassa said, "Many times I think Fats' very salvation was Dave being able to be stern enough and rigid enough to insist on things getting done... He was adamant as he could be about the discipline of the players."
Bartholomew left Imperial after a disagreement with Chudd at the end of 1950 and for two years recorded for other labels, including Decca, King and Specialty. Among his recordings at King was "My Ding-a-Ling", which Bartholomew wrote and first recorded in January 1952; the song was later recorded by Chuck Berry, who had an international hit with it in 1972, although Berry substantially changed the song's arrangement and verses and claimed credit for writing it. While at Specialty, Bartholomew produced Lloyd Price's recording of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", which featured Domino (uncredited) on piano. The single reached number 1 on the R&B chart in mid-1952.
After that success, Bartholomew returned to Imperial to work again on Domino's recordings, co-writing and producing a series of R&B hits for him. Domino's crossover to the pop chart came in 1955 with "Ain't That a Shame" (initially titled "Ain't It A Shame"), on which Bartholomew deliberately sought to make Domino's style more appealing to white record buyers. Further hits followed through the late 1950s and early 1960s: "I'm in Love Again" and "Blue Monday" (both in 1956), "I'm Walkin'" (1957), "I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday" (1959), "Let the Four Winds Blow" (1961)—all co-written and produced by Bartholomew—and "Blueberry Hill" (1956) and "Walking to New Orleans" (1960), also produced by Bartholomew.
Over the same period, Bartholomew wrote, arranged, and produced recordings by many other Imperial artists, including Smiley Lewis (for whom Bartholomew wrote "I Hear You Knocking" and "One Night", both of which were hits and were later recorded by other musicians), the Spiders, Chris Kenner, Earl King, Tommy Ridgley, Robert Parker, T-Bone Walker, Roy Brown, Frankie Ford, and Shirley and Lee (who recorded for Aladdin Records and for whom Bartholomew produced "Let the Good Times Roll"). Several of Bartholomew's songs were later covered by other musicians. "Ain't That a Shame" was recorded successfully by Pat Boone; "I Hear You Knocking" was a hit for Gale Storm in the 1950s and Dave Edmunds in the 1970s; "One Night" and "Witchcraft" were hits for Elvis Presley; and "I'm Walkin'" was a hit for Ricky Nelson. On several of his songs, a co-writing credit was given to his wife, Pearl King (sometimes confused with the musician Earl King).
Later life and death
After Imperial was sold to Liberty Records in Los Angeles in 1963, Bartholomew remained in New Orleans. He worked for Trumpet Records and Mercury Records and then established his own label, Broadmoor Records, in 1967. The label folded the following year, when its distributor, Dover Records, collapsed.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Bartholomew led a traditional Dixieland jazz band in New Orleans, releasing an album, Dave Bartholomew's New Orleans Jazz Band, in 1981. He also took part in Fats Domino's international tours during that period. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a nonperformer in 1991. He released two further albums in the 1990s, Dave Bartholomew and the Maryland Jazz Band (1995) and New Orleans Big Beat (1998), and continued to make occasional appearances with his band at festivals.
Bartholomew married Pearl King in 1942. After her death in 1967 he married Rhea (née Douse). He had four sons and one daughter. He remained a resident of New Orleans. He later celebrated his 100th birthday on Christmas Eve 2018, but plans for a celebration concert were suspended after being hospitalized.
Chart hits and other notable songs
|Year||Song||Original artist||Co-writer(s) with Bartholomew||U.S. Pop||U.S. R&B||UK Singles Chart||Other charting versions, and notes|
|1950||"3 x 7 = 21"||Jewel King||-||4||-||1955: The Spiders, #9 R&B (as "21")|
|"Country Boy"||Dave Bartholomew and His Orchestra||Fats Domino||-||14||-||1960: Fats Domino, #25 US pop, #19 UK|
|"The Fat Man"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||2||-|
|1951||"Tra-La-La"||Dave Bartholomew and His Orchestra||Tommy Ridgley||-||-||-||1951: The Griffin Brothers feat. Tommy Brown, #7 R&B|
|1952||"The Bells Are Ringing"||Smiley Lewis||Overton Lemons||-||10||-|
|"Poor Poor Me"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||10||-|
|"My Ding-a-Ling"||Dave Bartholomew||-||-||-||1972: Chuck Berry, #1 US pop, #42 R&B, #1 UK|
|1953||"Going to the River"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||2||-||1953: Chuck Willis, #4 R&B|
|"Rose Mary"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||10||-|
|"Something's Wrong"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||6||-|
|1954||"I'm Slippin' In"||The Spiders||-||6||-|
|"Blue Monday"||Smiley Lewis||Fats Domino||-||-||-||1956: Fats Domino, #5 US pop, #1 R&B, #23 UK|
1971: Dave Edmunds, #104 US pop
1989: Bob Seger, #40 rock
|1955||"I Hear You Knocking"||Smiley Lewis||Pearl King||-||2||-||1955: Gale Storm, #2 US pop, #15 R&B|
1961: Fats Domino, #67 US pop
1970: Dave Edmunds, #4 US pop, #1 UK
|"Don't You Know"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||7||-|
|"Let the Four Winds Blow"||Dave Bartholomew||Fats Domino||-||-||-||1957: Roy Brown, No. 29 US pop, No. 5 R&B|
1961: Fats Domino, No. 15 US pop, No. 2 R&B
1962: Sandy Nelson, No. 107 pop
1967: Jerry Jaye, No. 107 US pop
1974: Jack Reno, No. 57 country
|"Witchcraft"||The Spiders||Pearl King||-||5||-||1963: Elvis Presley, No. 32 US pop|
|"Ain't That a Shame"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||10||1||23||1955: Pat Boone, No. 1 US pop, No. 14 R&B, No. 7 UK|
1963: The Four Seasons, No. 22 US pop, No. 38 UK
1972: Hank Williams Jr., No. 7 country
1979: Cheap Trick, No. 35 US pop
|"All By Myself"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||1||-|
|"I Can't Go On"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||6||-|
|1956||"One Night"||Smiley Lewis||Pearl King
(later recordings also credit Anita Steinman)
|-||11||-||1958: Elvis Presley, No. 4 US pop, No. 10 R&B, No. 1 UK|
1972: Jeannie C. Riley, No. 57 country
1975: Mud, No. 32 UK
1976: Roy Head, No. 51 country
2005: Elvis Presley, No. 1 UK (reissue)
|"Please Listen to Me"||Smiley Lewis||Pearl King||-||9||-|
|"Try Rock and Roll"||Bobby Mitchell||Pearl King'||-||14||-|
|"Bo Weevil"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||35||5||-||1956: Teresa Brewer, No. 17 US pop|
|"Don't Blame It on Me"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||9||-|
|"I'm In Love Again"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||3||1||12||1956: The Fontane Sisters, No. 38 US pop|
1963: Ricky Nelson, No. 67 US pop
|"So-Long"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||44||5||-|
|"Honey Chile"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||2||29|
|1957||"I'm Walkin'"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||4||1||19||1957: Ricky Nelson, No. 4 US pop, No. 10 R&B|
1969: Dave Peel, No. 66 country
1977: Doug Kershaw, No. 96 country
|"The Rooster Song"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||-||13||-|
|"Valley of Tears"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||8||2||25||1961: Buddy Holly, No. 12 UK|
|"Keeper of My Heart"||Faye Adams||Pearl King||-||13||-|
|"I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday"||Bobby Mitchell||Fats Domino, Roy Hayes||-||-||-||1959: Fats Domino, No. 17 US pop, No. 22 R&B|
|"When I See You"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||29||14||-|
|"Wait and See"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||23||7||-|
|"I Still Love You"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||79||-||-|
|"The Big Beat"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||26||15||20|
|"I Want You To Know"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||32||-||-|
|1958||"Yes, My Darling"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||55||10||-|
|"No, No"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||55||-||-|
|"Sick and Tired"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||22||14||26|
|"Little Mary"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||49||4||-|
|"Young School Girl"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||92||15||-|
|"Whole Lotta Loving"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||6||2||-||1973: Hank Williams Jr. & Lois Johnson, No. 22 country|
|1960||"If You Need Me"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||98||-||-|
|"Tell Me That You Love Me"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||51||-||-|
|"Before I Grow Too Old"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||84||-||-|
|"Walking to New Orleans"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino, Bobby Charles||6||2||19|
|"My Girl Josephine"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||14||7||32||1963: Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders, No. 46 UK (as "Hello Josephine")|
1967: Jerry Jaye, No. 29 US pop
1984: J. W. Thompson, No. 91 country (as "Hello Josephine")
1995: Super Cat, No. 22 UK
|"Natural Born Lover"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||38||28||-|
|1961||"Shu Rah"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||32||-||-|
|"It Keeps Rainin'"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino, Bobby Charles||23||18||49||1993: Bitty McLean, No. 2 UK|
|"What a Party"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||22||-||43|
|1962||"Ida Jane"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||90||-||-|
|"Nothing New (Same Old Thing)"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino, Pee Wee Maddux, Jack Jessup||77||-||-|
|"Dance with Mr. Domino"||Fats Domino||Fats Domino||98||-||-|
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- Dave Bartholomew Interview NAMM Oral History Library (2003)
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