Music Legend Fats Domino Passes Away; What Was His Real Net Worth?

Music legend Fats Domino passed away today at the age of 89.

Domino was a huge legend in the R&B and rock and roll industry, setting sales records from the 1950s on. In fact, his first album sold over a million copies.

Fats Domino had a long history in the music business, which started when he was just a child. His family introduced him to the music scene, and they taught him to play different instruments.

Fats took to playing the piano, and was impressing audiences at a very young age. Famous musicians would travel from far and wide to see him, and he was quickly signed to Imperial Records.

Fats spent decades making huge hits. In total, his records sold 65 million copies, with some several individual songs in the top 40s. At the time, records sold for around $1, but Fats never made anywhere near $65 million.

Fats Domino Earnings, Net Worth

Fats Domino said that he lived off his royalties over the 80s and 90s. His life, however, was not particularly glamorous.

He lived in a small house in New Orleans until Katrina struck. The house was destroyed by Katrina, and Fats was forced to move out after being rescued from the storm.

It has been well documented that many black musicians of the time didn't make the money that they were entitled to.

In fact, according to The Belleville News Democrat, one of Fats Domino's contemporaries, Fred Parris, sold 10-15 million copies and only earned $783.

Fats Domino was careful to avoid that fate. He ensured that his contracts stipulated that he got royalties from all of his music.

Still, the total amount of royalties he could be expected to receive from the 65 million records he sold was only around $750,000. And Fats blew through his money fast.

The author of a book on Fats Domino, Rick Coleman, said this to a reporter in 2006:

There's no question that he didn't earn as much money as he should have, and one reason is that he had a pretty shady lawyer who took an unsubstantiated amount of Domino's earnings. However, the good news is that Lew Chudd of Imperial Records paid royalties on recordings, and actually paid Domino substantial sums. So, unlike a lot of the other artists from that era, Fats retained songwriting credit for his music, and songwriting and record royalties remain the substantial sources of his income to this day. He's pretty lucky in that regard. While he had other money problems -- he lost lots of money from gambling during the 1960's and 1970's -- he actually did better receiving and retaining his money earned from music than many of the white rock and roll artists did during the same period of time.

After Hurricane Katrina, Fats had to stay in a shelter for a while, before he went to stay at the apartment of a friend, according to The Washington Post.

For a brief period, he was missing entirely. His gold records and most other possessions were looted.

Eventually, the Tiptina's Foundation paid to rebuild his house. Fats didn't move in; however, and he moved to another place nearby.

There are differing estimates of Fats Domino's net worth.

Some believe it's as high as $8 million, while others say it is much lower. One thing's for sure: he was one of the biggest musicians in history, but financially, he never received what he deserved.

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