Fats Domino and The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll - Riots and Rock ‘n’ Roll

In the 1950s, both white and black fans flocked to Fats Domino concerts, integrating many venues for the first time. In 1956, four riots took place at Domino’s concerts. Saxophone great Herb Hardesty describes the scene and police action at two concerts and says the riots weren’t about race, but they were great publicity. Domino biographer Rick Coleman, author of Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll explains that the alcohol served at concert venues played a role in the riots.

Asked by a reporter on camera whether rock ‘n’ roll could be blamed for rioting, Domino answered, “Well, as far as I know, music makes people happy.” When the reporter references a riot at a Rhode Island naval base concert, Domino smiles sweetly to the camera and says, “Well you know when the Navy and the Marines get together…”