Another Mark Steyn history of a song.
Which brings us to Wednesday June 27th 1956 on North Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood, at a studio called Master Recorders. Fats Domino is there, with Dave Bartholomew as producer-arranger, and the session's going pretty well. So well, in fact, that they run out of material. What to do with the remaining time? Fats has an idea. He's heard the Louis Armstrong record, and he'd like to take a crack at "Blueberry Hill". But he doesn't know the lyric. Harrison Verrett, the brother-in-law who'd taught him to play the piano almost two decades earlier, runs down the number with Fats. He works out an intro, starting with a bit of one-fingered piano in the right hand and ending with his distinctive forceful left-hand in the bass. But he's still having trouble with the words. Dave Bartholomew, for one, is adamantly opposed to Fats doing the song.
But off they go. They try it once, twice, again. And not once does Fats manage to get through a complete take. Bartholomew leaves the studio very despondent, and goes off to keep a dinner date with his boss, Imperial Records founder Lew Chudd. "Lew, I don't have nothing," he says, before dropping off a tape of a sax-driven slab of r'n'b called "Honey Chile".
Meanwhile, back at Master Recorders, the studio's owner and engineer Bunny Robyn is splicing together various uncompleted takes into a composite version of "Blueberry Hill", though a few textual errors manage to sneak through:
Close enough. Lew Chudd likes it, and decides to put it on the B-side of "Honey Chile". Bartholomew remains dead set against it, and warns Domino that "Blueberry Hill" will "ruin" him.
- But all of those vows you made
Were only to be...