Labels from Imperial 45 RPM Singles, 1951-64.


Imperial Records


While some promotional materials for Fats Domino’s records show his smiling face, the records and protective sleeves emphasize the company that was pressing the vinyl: Imperial Records.

This is not unusual for the era; record companies would sometimes have greater name recognition than the artists they recorded. While larger labels had a number of different catalogs (or even sub-labels) for different genres, many record companies specialized in one genre or market. Thus, even when artists were unknown, listeners knew that the musicians had a similar sound to the more notable artists from that label.



Imperial T-Shirt, c. 1983.


In the 1950s, partially due to Fats Domino’s success, Imperial Records emerged as a notable R&B label. Domino’s releases were surrounded by other New Orleans R&B singles from artists such as Bobby Mitchell, Smiley Lewis, Shirley and Lee, and Roy Brown.

Fats Domino signed to ABC-Paramount Records, a larger label that supported a number of genres. Perhaps because of their interest in other markets, as well as Fats Domino's success on the pop charts, the producers incorporated more characteristics of country and pop. Domino did not appreciate these changes, and switched to other labels throughout the rest of his career.


Sleeves from Imperial 45 RPM Singles, 1951-64.