New Orleans music man, Dave Bartholomew is one of the truly distinguished figures of the delta music scene, a man with multi talents as a songwriter, producer, bandleader and horn player who spans many eras of popular music genres.
Known in many circles for his long and fruitful music and songwriting partnership with another crescent city music personality, Antoine "Fats" Domino, many of Bartholomew's other claims to musical fame are actually less well known.
The self-proclaimed inventor of the Big Beat was born on December 24, 1920 in Edgard, Louisiana. By age 14, Bartholomew had already played with many of the most popular bands of the south, Papa Celestin, Joe Robicheaux and Professor Claiborne Williams, among them. In 1939, he joined the Fats Pichon band aboard the river boat, SS Capitol. Traveling up and down the Mississippi, the band would spend summers in St. Paul, Minnesota and winters at home, in New Orleans.
During these years, Bartholomew also put in a stint with the then renowned Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra, prior to joining the army during World War II. He served with the U.S. Army Band, while simultaneously trying his hand, for the first time, at writing and arranging music. Mustered out of the Army, Bartholomew eased into the post-war scene by starting his own band, at one of whose dates, in Houston, Texas, he met the highly successful record man Lew Chudd, of Imperial Records. Bartholomew was signed to the label and soon made the acquaintance of another delta area music man, Antoine "Fats" Domino. He produced and co-wrote with Domino, "The Fat Man," and hit immediate pay-dirt as the single reached sales of one million plus.
While he produced, wrote and arranged for recordings by numerous other artists, Bartholomew's partner-ship with Domino proved the most prolific and productive. The pair would eventually generate sales in excess of several hundred million dollars, receiving recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records for a world record in recording sales.
The team of Bartholomew and Domino co-wrote many songs that became monster record hits. The titles include "Ain't it a Shame," "I'm in Love Again," "Blue Monday," "I'm Walkin'," and "Valley of Tears," to mention a very few. But there were other major successes as well. Bartholomew produced a series of memorable hits with such artists as Lloyd Price ("Lawdy Miss Claudy"), Shirley and Lee ("Let the Good Times Roll") and Smiley Lewis ("I Hear You Knocking," and "One Night") among others.
Many artists have recorded Dave Bartholomew's songs. "I Hear you Knocking" was a solid hit for singer Gale Storm; "One Night" and "Witchcraft" were both hits for Elvis Presley. Pat Boone landed well up the charts with "Aint That a Shame," as did Rick Nelson with "I'm Walkin'." In the 1970s through the present, the Bartholomew catalog would continue to prove its versatility and resonance with recordings by a new group of major name performers, including Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Hank Williams Jr., Bob Seger, The Thunderbirds, Dave Edmunds, Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello, Joe Cocker and George Benson. His songs have also frequently appeared in hit motion picture soundtracks including "The Blues Brothers," "American Graffiti" and "The Girl Cant Help It," among others.
Semi-retired today, Bartholomew still occasionally picks up the trumpet for appearances with the Dave Bartholomew Big Band at music festivals here and abroad.