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December 10: Fats Domino and Lew Chudd

December 10, 2015

Lew+Chudd+(Imperial)Creole musician Fats Domino recorded his first songs for Imperial Records on this date in 1949, including the song, “The Fat Man,” which would sell a million copies by 1953 and provide him with his stage name. Imperial Records was owned by Lew Chudd (Louis Chudnofsky), a Canadian-born Jew who grew up in Harlem and became an advertising salesman for NBC radio, where he created the Let’s Dance show featuring Benny Goodman. Imperial Records also recorded Ricky Nelson, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and a slew of successful country musicians. Chudd founded the company in 1946 and first concentrated on the Mexican and folk music markets around Los Angeles. Fats Domino provided him with a slew of hits and a total of 65 million records sold. By 1964, Chudd sold the company to Liberty Records for $1 million. Chudd died at 86 in 1998. Fats is still around and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. To watch him playing “Ain’t That a Shame,” look below.

“The revenue stream provided by Fats’ records enabled Lew to make Imperial one of the strongest independent labels of the ’50s, especially when the big crossover hits like ‘My Blue Heaven’ and ‘Blueberry Hill’ came around.” —All About Blues Music