Herb Hardesty in Paris, 1980. Photo by Lionel decoster via Wikimedia Commons.

Herb Hardesty, Longtime Fats Domino Saxophonist, Dies at 91

Herb Hardesty, the New Orleans-born saxophonist who contributed his chops to nearly every track in Fats Domino’s catalog, died on Saturday at the age of 91. He passed away in Las Vegas, a town he called home for many decades.

“I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday,” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” are among the tunes that featured Hardesty’s signature sound. Hardesty was also behind the solo on Lloyd Price’s 1952 classic “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” and assisted bandleader, producer and songwriter Dave Bartholomew with tracks from artists like Shirley & Lee, Smiley Lewis and Roy Brown. According to Fats Domino biographer Rick Coleman, Hardesty even joined Tom Waits on tour in 1970.

Yet its Hardesty’s work with Fats Domino that stands out the most. The pair were close collaborators for nearly six decades, from Domino’s 1949 breakthrough “The Fat Man” (considered by many to be the first rock and roll song) to his farewell concert at Tipitina’s in 2007. Hardesty was even a part of the tribute band that honored Domino during the 2007 Best of the Beat Awards.

NOLA.com reports that a memorial service will be held for Hardesty at the D.W. Rhodes Chapel in New Orleans on Saturday, December 10. Viewing will start at 10am, and a funeral service will follow at 11am. He will be laid to rest at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

A more complete obituary for Hardesty will appear in the January 2017 issue of Offbeat.

  • Roy Boy

    thanks for all the music, saw him many times live in nola…..you left the world better and richer than you found it!!!!!will miss the tone……rock on with the angels!!!!