It’s hard to overstate the impact Dave Bartholomew had not only on the New Orleans R&B scene, but on rock and roll itself. The Times-Picayune obituary memorializes Bartholomew:
Dave Bartholomew, a trumpeter, composer and bandleader whose uncanny ability to spot and nurture promising performers, most notably Fats Domino, helped stamp New Orleans’ imprint on the developing genre of rock ‘n’ roll, died Sunday morning (June 23) at East Jefferson General Hospital, according to his son Ron. Mr. Bartholomew was 100.
“It’s virtually impossible to imagine the New Orleans musical canon without the impact of Dave Bartholomew,” Michael Hurtt wrote on www.ponderosastomp.com. “His devastating influence has charted the course of the city’s jazz, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and funk sounds for well over 50 years.”
In addition to performing, writing songs and leading bands, Mr. Bartholomew worked behind the scenes at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Recording Studio, on the fringe of the French Quarter. There, he would find singers and instrumentalists and then play musical matchmaker to bring them together in just the right combinations and produce dozens of recordings, starting in the late 1940s.
In addition to Domino, those artists included Smiley Lewis, Snooks Eaglin, Little Sonny Jones, Pee Wee Crayton, Shirley and Lee, Frankie Ford and Sugarboy Crawford.
“He genuinely loved music, and he genuinely loved being part of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll as an expression of New Orleans music,” said Gwen Thompkins, host of WWNO’s “Music Inside Out.”
“He loved not just having hits, but he loved music, and he loved to get the music right,” she said.
Mr. Bartholomew, who had served in the Army during World War II, “ran a tight ship in the studio,” said George Ingmire, a documentarian who has done oral histories of New Orleans musicians.
“There was no showing up late. There was no drinking,” Ingmire said. “You wouldn’t have the number of hits that Fats Domino and others who recorded at Cosimo Matassa’s studio were it not for that tight ship. There was an enthusiasm and a work ethic that went around. Dave set the tone.”
Read more here.