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Biography

  • Born

    24 December 1918

  • Born In

    Edgard, St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, United States

  • Died

    23 June 2019 (aged 100)

Dave Bartholomew (David Louis Bartholomew, Edgard, Louisiana, U.S.A., December 24, 1918 - June 23, 2019) was an influential American musician, band leader, composer and arranger, prominent in the music of New Orleans throughout the second half of the 20th century. Although he never had a hit under his own name, he is considered one of the founding fathers of the rock n roll sound, and his musical productions and compositions are familiar the world over through his work with such local talent as Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis and covers performed by such artists as Elvis Presley, Dave Edmunds , Elvis Costello, Little Richard, Shirley & Lee, Chris Kenner, Lloyd Price and Dr. John

Bartholomew has been active in many musical genres, including rhythm and blues, big band, swing music, rock and roll, New Orleans jazz and Dixieland. Although many musicians have recorded Bartholomew's songs, 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 two songs that reached Number One on the Billboard R&B chart "Goin' Home" and "Ain't That a Shame". He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

He first learned to play the tuba but the trumpet later became his main instrument after his parents moved to New Orleans in 1933 where he played in local jazz and brass bands including Papa Celestin's, as well as Fats Pichon's on a Mississippi Riverboat whom he later evolved to become bandleader of before WWII. After serving in the military during the war his professional career took off back in Nawlins, when he put together a group that included Alvin 'Red' Tyler, Earl Palmer and Lee Allen called Dave Bartholomew and the Dew Droppers who played the popular segregated local night spot The Dew Drop Inn.

He began recording in 1947 for De Luxe Records, but the company folded and he received little recognition. In 1949, however, he began working with Lew Chudd's Imperial Records as an arranger, bandleader and talent scout. He produced hits from Earl King, Tommy Ridgley, Robert Parker, Frankie Ford, Chris Kenner, Smiley Lewis, Shirley & Lee and Fats Domino, among others. He was responsible for the arrangements on the Fats Domino hits in the 1950s including the best seller "Blueberry Hill". He left Imperial in the mid-1960s and moved between several labels, including his own Broadmoor Records (named for his neighborhood of New Orleans, Broadmoor).

As of 2009 he was still involved in the music business and releasing recordings of his own. He also occasionally played traditional jazz trumpet in his senior years at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter, despite his millionaire status.

Bartholomew helped develop and define the New Orleans sound which was so influential in the 1950s. He was key in the transition from jump blues and big band swing to rhythm and blues and rock and roll. Bartholomew and Domino co-wrote many songs that were hits, including "Ain't That a Shame", "I'm in Love Again" "Blue Monday" and "I'm Walkin'".

He wrote many of his best known songs with his first wife Pearl King, including "I Hear You Knocking" which has been recorded by at least 100 artists but was first a hit for Gale Storm in the 1950s, and later notably Dave Edmunds in the 1970s; "One Night" and "Witchcraft" were both hits for Elvis Presley. Pat Boone's cover of "Ain't That a Shame," and Ricky Nelson's version of "I'm Walkin'" were top twenty hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Chuck Berry's only #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit was a cover of Bartholomew's "My Ding-a-Ling", although Berry substantially changed the arrangement and verses.

Bartholomew produced a series of memorable hits such as "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" with Lloyd Price; and "I Hear You Knocking" and "One Night (Of Sin)" with Smiley Lewis; plus "Let the Good Times Roll" with Shirley & Lee.

In 1991 Bartholomew was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer owing to his role in producing early rhythm and blues songs. Drummers Terces LaBune and Randy Quinson and guitarists Larry Sands and Samuel Kane played in his later band.

He remained a lifelong resident of New Orleans, and celebrated his 100th birthday on Christmas Eve 2018, but plans for a celebration concert were suspended after he was hospitalized.

Bartholomew died of heart failure at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, Louisiana on June 23, 2019, and was buried at St Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in Gentilly Louisiana.

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