Herb Hardesty was a tenor sax player whose most famous gig was with Fats Domino, as a member of “The Fat Man’s” sax-heavy band. Hardesty played with Domino for nearly 50 years, from the singer’s 1949 debut single “The Fat Man” through his farewell concert in 2007.
Hardesty (March 3, 1925-December 3, 2016) was admired by other musicians, as well. He’s on “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” a 1952 hit by Lloyd Price and has appeared on Dr. John’s Goin’ Back to New Orleans and Tom Waits Blue Valentine. (You can hear a Hardesty solo on “A Sweet Little Bullet from a Pretty Blue Gun” on Waits’ 1978 album.) In his later years in Las Vegas, he was part of the Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Hilton Hotel bands.
Hardesty’s first instrument was a trumpet given to his stepfather by Louis Armstrong. While in the service in WWII, he was given a sax by his commanding officer, and is said to have learned how to play it in just two days. For many years he played a gold-plated Selmer Mark VI, dubbed “the most famous horn on the planet” by The Vintage Saxophone Gallery.