Late August 1963

Fats Domino in Camden? You say, no way.... but yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and the Fat Man himself did indeed come through Camden in the late summer of 1963.

This story came to me by way of the Earl Crim, who grew up at 59 Ablett Village, the public housing project that sits on the southwest corner of State Street and River Road. Across State Street was, and still is, the building housing Recorded Publications Laboratories, a recording facility that, by 1970 advertised "4 studios - Mono - Stereo- Multi Track" and "Record Masters & Pressing" and other services. In other words, they had it going on, production-wise.

My friend Bobby Dorton who lived in Ablett Village with his grandmother came over to my house one night around 10 p.m. and knocked on the door and my mother answered and Bobby was begging her to let me out. He told her that there was music coming out of the recording studio which was across the street from the village. Well, she finally let me out and we went over there. 

We climbed up and over fence to the windows to watch and hear Fats Domino play and sing Red Sails In The Sunset and on the piano was a bottle of Piel's Beer. A bus was parked there with the name Fat's and Dominos were painted on it. 

Take notice to the two windows in front of the street sign these are the windows that we watched thorough.

Recorded Publications Laboratories - August, 2004

So what was Fats Domino doing in Camden? In 1963 he had left the Imperial record label, where he scored all of his Top 10 hits, to sign with ABC-Paramount. He recorded in Nashville with producers Felton Jarvis and Bill Justis. These sessions produced Domino's last Top 40 hit, a cover of the old standard Red Sails in The Sunset, which peaked at #24 on the Billboard R&B Chart and at #35 on the Pop chart. Red Sails in The Sunset was written in 1935, recorded many times, and had been a hit for the Platters a few years earlier.

ABC-Paramount was of course part of the media company (a term not invented in those days) that owned American Bandstand, so with Fats and his band doing live appearances on the East Coast, ABC made a point of bringing him into Philadelphia to appear on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, which was produced in Philadelphia and aired Monday through Friday on Channel 6, which in those times was WFIL. 

It appears that Fats felt the need to get his road band some extra rehearsal in for the new tune. He had recorded it with a studio band, and Red Sails apparently had not been part of his live show up to this date.

Fats Domino appeared on American Bandstand, performing Red Sails in the Sunset, on Thursday, August 29, 1963. He was the last live guest on the weekday version of American Bandstand. The following day, Dick Clark announced that the show would move to Saturday afternoons. For many it was the end of an era.

In retrospect, perhaps that era had died long before Clark made his move to Saturday, and then to the West Coast. On his last weekday show, these were Dick Clark's Top 10 Hits as of August 30, 1963

1.   The Angels - My Boyfriend's Back!
2.   Allan Sherman - Hello Mudduh, Hello Fudduh!(A Letter from Camp)
3.   Little Stevie Wonder - Fingertips
4.   The 4 Seasons - Candy Girl
5.   Peter, Paul & Mary - Blowin' in the Wind
6.   Trini Lopez - If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)
7.   Lesley Gore - Judy's Turn to Cry
8.   Inez Foxx & Charlie Foxx - Mockingbird
9.   Kai Winding - More
10. Randy & The Rainbows - Denise.

If someone can explain to me what Allen Sherman had to do with rock'n'roll, I'm more than willing to listen. Kai Winding was a jazz artist, and one would really be stretching to call Trini Lopez and Peter, Paul, & Mary rockers...... although Lopez was pretty cool in The Dirty Dozen. If that's a Top 10, it must have been a really BAD week.

The musicians on Red Sails in The Sunset were:

Fats Domino; vocals, piano

James Booker, piano

Roy Montrell, guitar

Clarence Brown, drums

Herbert Hardesty, sax, trumpet

Reggie Hall, organ

Boots Randolph. sax

Bill Justis Orchestra, saxes, trumpet,
                        bass, strings, choir

Producer : Felton Jarvis                    Recording studio: ABC-Paramount,Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Many Thanks to Earl Crim for his help in creating this page.

If you remember Earl from Ablett, Pyne Point, North Camden or anywhere else, e-mail him!

Two different links with the same name, BOTH are very good!
The Fats Domino Pages
The Fats Domino Pages