Dave Bartholomew Biography

24 December 1920, Edgard, Louisiana, USA. Dave Bartholomew was one of the most important shapers of New Orleans R&B and rock ‘n’ roll during the 50s. A producer, arranger, songwriter, band leader and artist, Bartholomew produced and co-wrote most of Fats Domino’s major hits for Imperial Records. Bartholomew started playing the trumpet as a child, encouraged by his father, a dixieland jazz tuba player. He performed in marching bands throughout the 30s and then on a Mississippi riverboat band led by Fats Pichon beginning in 1939, and learned songwriting basics during a stint in the US Army. Upon his return to New Orleans in the late 40s he formed his first band, which became one of the city’s most popular. He also backed Little Richard on some early recordings. Bartholomew worked for several labels, including Specialty Records, Aladdin Records and De Luxe, for whom he had a big hit in 1949 with ‘Country Boy’. In the same year he started a long-term association with Imperial as a producer and arranger. The previous year Bartholomew had discovered Domino in New Orleans’ Hideaway Club and he introduced him to Imperial. They collaborated on ‘The Fat Man’, which, in 1950, became the first of over a dozen hits co-authored by the pair and produced by Bartholomew. Others included ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Walking To New Orleans’, ‘Let The Four Winds Blow’, ‘I’m In Love Again’, ‘Whole Lotta Loving’, ‘My Girl Josephine’ and ‘I’m Walkin’’, the latter also becoming a hit for Ricky Nelson. Bartholomew’s other credits include Smiley Lewis’ ‘I Hear You Knocking’ (later a hit for Dave Edmunds) and ‘One Night’ (later a hit for Elvis Presley, with its lyrics tamed), Lloyd Price’s ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, and records for Shirley And Lee, Earl King, Roy Brown, Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, Bobby Mitchell, Chris Kenner, Robert Parker, Frankie Ford and Snooks Eaglin. In 1963, Imperial was sold to Liberty Records, and Bartholomew declined an invitation to move to their Hollywood base, preferring to stay in New Orleans. In 1972, Chuck Berry reworked ‘My Ding-A-Ling’, a song Bartholomew had penned in 1952, and achieved his only US number 1 single.

Although Bartholomew, who claims to have written over 4, 000 songs, recorded under his own name, his contribution has been primarily as a backstage figure. He recorded a dixieland album in 1981 and in the 90s led a big band at occasional special events such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1991.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.