95-year old music legend Billy Diamond to be buried tomorrow, 12/9

His biggest claim to fame may be giving “Fats” Domino his nickname, but William “Billy” Diamond, who passed away on October 20, 2011, wore every hat in the music business.

Billy Diamond was born on October 5, 1916 and began his career as a washtub bass player. He hobnobbed with the early greats of jazz music. Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong gave him a trumpet and Oscar “Papa” Celestin was his teacher when he graduated to a proper upright bass.

Diamond was one of the first to recognize the talent of Antoine “Fats” Domino when he heard the young man perform in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. Diamond gave him the nickname because his playing resembled the legends “Fats” Waller and “Fats” Pichon. Domino would later “grow” into his nickname.

On the strength of that performance, Diamond hired Domino in 1947 to play in his band, the Solid Senders. By the early 1950s Domino had changed the face of American music and helped to usher rock ‘n’ roll music into existence. Diamond played bass on some of his early recordings including “Ain’t That A Shame” and was his road manager throughout the 1950s. Diamond relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1960s where he worked a booking agent, promoter and club manager.

Despite living in Los Angeles for the better part of his life, he will be buried in the historic St. Louis #1 cemetery of his hometown. In a twist on the jazz funeral tradition, friends, family and musicians will gather at the gates of the cemetery (400 Basin Street) at 1 PM tomorrow. The funeral procession will proceed to his tomb for the service.

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