Fats Domino, who sang such hits as "Ain't That A Shame" and "Blueberry Hill," died Tuesday, the coroner's office said. He was 89.
Domino stood 5-feet-5 and weighed more than 200 pounds, with a wide, boyish smile and a haircut as flat as an album cover.
He sold more than 110 million records, and his 22 million-selling singles helped change popular music even as he honored the grand, good-humored tradition of New Orleans.
Harry Connick Jr. and other celebrities mourned the loss on social media.
Connick Jr. wrote, "you helped pave the way for new orleans piano players... see you on top of that blueberry hill in the sky."
He was one of the first 10 honorees named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Rolling Stone Record Guide likened him to founding father Benjamin Franklin.
His dynamic performance style and warm vocals drew crowds for five decades. One of his show-stopping stunts was playing the piano while standing, throwing his body against it with the beat of the music and bumping the grand piano across the stage.
Domino's 1956 version of "Blueberry Hill" was selected for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry of historic sound recordings worthy of preservation. The preservation board noted that Domino insisted on performing the song despite his producer's doubts, adding that Domino's "New Orleans roots are evident in the Creole inflected cadences that add richness and depth to the performance."
Domino became a global star but stayed true to his hometown, where his fate was initially unknown after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. It turned out that he and his family were rescued by boat from his home, where he lost three pianos and dozens of gold and platinum records, along with other memorabilia.
Many wondered if he would ever return to the stage. Scheduled to perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2006, he simply tipped his hat to thousands of cheering fans.
But in May 2007, he was back, performing at Tipitina's music club in New Orleans. Fans cheered — and some cried — as Domino played "I'm Walkin'," ''Ain't It a Shame," ''Shake, Rattle and Roll," ''Blueberry Hill" and a host of other hits.
That performance was a highlight during several rough years. After losing their home and almost all their belongings to the floods, his wife of more than 50 years, Rosemary, died in April 2008.
Domino moved to the New Orleans suburb of Harvey after the storm but would often visit his publishing house, an extension of his old home in the Lower 9th Ward, inspiring many with his determination to stay in the city he loved.
The son of a violin player, Antoine Domino Jr. was born on Feb. 26, 1928, to a family that grew to include nine children. As a youth, he taught himself popular piano styles — ragtime, blues and boogie-woogie — after his cousin left an old upright in the house. Fats Waller and Albert Ammons were early influences.
He quit school at age 14, and worked days in a factory while playing and singing in local juke joints at night. In 1949, Domino was playing at the Hideaway Club for $3 a week when he was signed by Imperial record company.
He recorded his first song, "The Fat Man," in the back of a tiny French Quarter recording studio.
"They call me the Fat Man, because I weigh 200 pounds," he sang. "All the girls, they love me, 'cause I know my way around."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.