Dave Bartholomew

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Dave Bartholomew
DaveBarth Cropped.jpg
Bartholomew in 1977
Background information
Birth name Davis Bartholomew
Also known as David Louis Bartholomew
Born (1918-12-24) December 24, 1918 (age 96)
Edgard, Louisiana, United States
Genres Rhythm and blues, big band, swing, rock and roll, New Orleans jazz, Dixieland
Occupation(s) Musician, bandleader, composer, arranger
Instruments Trumpet, tuba
Years active Late 1930s – present
Labels De Luxe, Imperial, Broadmoor
Associated acts Fats Domino

David Louis "Dave" Bartholomew (born December 24, 1918) is an American musician, band leader, composer, arranger and record producer, prominent in the music of New Orleans throughout the second half of the 20th century. Originally a trumpeter, Bartholomew has been active in many musical genres, including rhythm and blues, big band, swing music, rock and roll, New Orleans jazz and Dixieland. He has been cited by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as key in the transition from jump blues and swing to R&B, and as "one of the Crescent City’s greatest musicians and a true pioneer in the rock and roll revolution."[1]

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".[2] Bartholomew's other hit songs as a composer include "I Hear You Knocking", "Blue Monday", "I'm Walkin'", and "One Night". He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.[3]


External video
Oral History, Dave Bartholomew shares early moments of his life story. interview date March 27, 2003, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Early life[edit]

Born Davis Bartholomew in Edgard, Louisiana, to Mary and Louis Bartholomew,[4][5] he first learned to play the tuba before taking up the trumpet, which he was taught by Peter Davis who had also tutored Louis Armstrong. Around 1933, he moved with his parents to New Orleans, and played in local jazz and brass bands, including Fats Pichon's band on a Mississippi riverboat.[1] After a spell in Jimmie Lunceford's band, he joined the US Army in World War II, and developed his writing and arranging skills while a member of the 196th Army Ground Forces Band.[3][6][7][8]

Early musical career[edit]

At the end of the war he went back to New Orleans and, by November 1945, he had started leading his own dance band, Dave Bartholomew and the Dew Droppers, named for a local club, the Dew Drop Inn.[9] The band became locally popular, described as "the bedrock of R&B in the city",[8] and, according to music historian Robert Palmer, were a "model for early rock ‘n’ roll bands the world over".[1] A local journalist wrote of the band in June 1946: "Putting it mildly, they make the house 'rock'".[6] In 1947, Bartholomew and his band were invited by club owner Don Robey to perform in Houston, Texas, where he met Lew Chudd, the founder of Imperial Records.[6]

Bartholomew and his band made their first recordings, including "She's Got Great Big Eyes", at Cosimo Matassa's New Orleans studio for De Luxe Records in September 1947.[10] They had their first hit with "Country Boy", credited to Dave Bartholomew and His Orchestra, which reached #14 on the national Billboard R&B chart in early 1950.[11] Prominent members of the band, besides Bartholomew on trumpet and occasional vocals, included saxophonists Alvin 'Red' Tyler, Herb Hardesty and Clarence Hall, bass player Frank Fields, guitarist Ernest McLean, pianist Salvador Doucette, and drummer Earl Palmer; later, they were joined by saxophonist Lee Allen.[7]

Imperial Records and Fats Domino[edit]

Two years after they had first met when Bartholomew was playing in Houston, Lew Chudd invited Bartholomew to become Imperial's A&R man in New Orleans.[6][12] Bartholomew produced Imperial's first national hits, "3 x 7 = 21", written by him and recorded by female singer Jewel King; and "The Fat Man" recorded in December 1949 by young pianist Fats Domino. "The Fat Man" - based on "Junker's Blues", with words rewritten by Bartholomew and Domino[13] - reached #2 on the R&B chart and eventually sold over one million copies, kicking off Domino's career.[7] Both records featured Bartholomew's band, as did a succession of further hits through the 1950s.[6][14] Cosimo Matassa said: "Many times I think Fats’ very salvation was Dave being able to be stern enough and rigid enough to insist on things getting done... He was adamant as he could be about the discipline of the players."[1]

Bartholomew left Imperial after a disagreement with Chudd at the end of 1950, and for two years recorded for other labels including Decca, King and Specialty.[7] Among his recordings at King was "My Ding-a-Ling", which Bartholomew wrote and first recorded in January 1952; the song was later recorded by Chuck Berry, who had an international hit with it in 1972, although Berry substantially changed the song's arrangement and verses, and claimed its writing credit.[7] While at Specialty, Bartholomew produced Lloyd Price's recording of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", which featured an uncredited Fats Domino on piano. The single reached number 1 on the R&B chart in mid-1952.[15]

After that success, Bartholomew returned to Imperial to work again on Domino's recordings, co-writing and producing a series of R&B hits for him. Domino's crossover to the pop chart came in 1955 with "Ain't It A Shame",[7] on which Bartholomew deliberately sought to make Domino's style more appealing to white record-buyers.[1] Further hits followed through the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "I'm In Love Again", "Blue Monday" (both 1956), "I'm Walkin'" (1957), "I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday" (1959), "Let the Four Winds Blow" (1961) – all co-written and produced by Bartholomew – and "Blueberry Hill" (1956) and "Walking to New Orleans" (1960), also produced by Bartholomew.[16]

Over the same period, Bartholomew also wrote, arranged and produced recordings by many other Imperial artists, including Smiley Lewis – for whom Bartholomew wrote "I Hear You Knocking" and "One Night", both hits which were later recorded by other musicians – the Spiders, Chris Kenner, Earl King, Tommy Ridgley, Robert Parker, T-Bone Walker, Roy Brown, and Frankie Ford, as well as Shirley and Lee, who recorded for the Aladdin label and for whom Bartholomew produced "Let the Good Times Roll".[8][7] Several of Bartholomew's songs were later covered by other musicians. "Ain't That a Shame" was recorded successfully by Pat Boone; "I Hear You Knocking" was a hit for Gale Storm in the 1950s, and Dave Edmunds in the 1970s; "One Night" and "Witchcraft" were both hits for Elvis Presley; and Ricky Nelson had a chart hit with "I'm Walkin'".

Later life[edit]

After Imperial was sold to Liberty Records in Los Angeles in 1963, Bartholomew remained in New Orleans. He worked for the Trumpet and Mercury labels, before setting up his own label, Broadmoor, in 1967.[1] However, the label folded the following year when its distributor, Dover Records, collapsed.[17]

In the 1970s and 1980s, Bartholomew led a traditional Dixieland jazz band in New Orleans, releasing an album, Dave Bartholomew's New Orleans Jazz Band, in 1981. He also took part in Fats Domino's international tours during the period. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a non-performer, in 1991. He released two further albums in the 1990s, Dave Bartholomew and the Maryland Jazz Band (1995) and New Orleans Big Beat (1998), and continued to make occasional festival appearances with his band.[8][1]

He remains a resident of New Orleans.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dave Bartholomew biography, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 29 August 2015
  2. ^ "Prairie Home Companion". PBS. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Dave Bartholomew". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  4. ^ Bob L. Eagle, Eric S. LeBlanc, Blues: A Regional Experience, ABC-CIO, 2013, p.172
  5. ^ Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.
  6. ^ a b c d e Coleman, R. (2007). Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n' Roll. Perseus Books Group. p. 39-42. ISBN 9780306816338. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Dave Bartholomew", Black Cat Rockabilly. Retrieved 28 August 2015
  8. ^ a b c d Biography by Al Campbell, Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015
  9. ^ Mike. "This Is It." Louisiana Weekly November 17, 1945: 6
  10. ^ Dave Bartholomew discography, duvigneaud.net. Retrieved 3 September 2015
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 23. 
  12. ^ Komara, E. (2005). Encyclopedia of the Blues. Routledge. p. 207. ISBN 9780415926997. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  13. ^ Coleman, p.51
  14. ^ Broven, John (1988). Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans. Pelican Publishing Company. p. 25. ISBN 9780882894331. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 357. 
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 119. 
  17. ^ Broadmoor Records, 45-sleeves.com. Retrieved 3 September 2015

External links[edit]