Fats Domino, the New Orleans musician whose hit versions of “Blueberry Hill” and “Ain’t That a Shame” were part of the opening salvo of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s, has died at the age of 89.
The death was announced by his daughter, who shared the news with local television outlet WWLTV early Wednesday morning. The Louisiana State Coroner’s Association later confirmed to PEOPLE that the musician had died Tuesday. He was surrounded by friends and family at the time of his passing, though the cause of death remains unavailable at this time.
Born Antoine Domino Jr. in the city’s Lower 9th Ward on Feb. 26, 1928, the Creole French musician pioneered a boogie-woogie style of piano playing that would become the bedrock of rock. “What they call rock ‘n’ roll is rhythm and blues,” he admitted in a 1956 profile. “And I’ve been playing it for 15 years in New Orleans.”
Regardless of label, his playing inspired generations of performers—perhaps most notably John Lennon, who once said that Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” was the first song he ever learned how to play.
In honor of his immense influence to music, the portly piano-playing prodigy was honored with an induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.
Stars and notables took to social media to mourn the loss of the music icon.
Words fail me in this moment of deep heartache and sadness. We have lost a legend. One of my heroes. New Orleans’ Fats Domino is dead. pic.twitter.com/HZNbQRI889
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) October 25, 2017
RIP fats domino… you helped pave the way for new orleans piano players… see you on top of that blueberry hill in the sky ❤️❤️
— Harry Connick Jr (@HarryConnickJR) October 25, 2017
Rest in paradise to Fats Domino. He paved the way for so many. I remember listening to his music as a little boy. #Fatsdomino
— LLCOOLJ. (@llcoolj) October 25, 2017
“Words fail me in this moment of deep heartache and sadness,” wrote Wendell Pierce. “We have lost a legend. One of my heroes. New Orleans’ Fats Domino is dead.”
Reporting by SARAH MICHAUD