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Fats Domino returns home to New Orleans

Sun Oct 16, 2005 7:36 pm

By Kevin Krolicki and Nichola Groom
Sat Oct 15, 6:50 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll pioneer Fats Domino, who was missing for days after Hurricane Katrina, returned home on Saturday to load some of his muddied gold records into the trunk of a car.

Sporting a white captain's hat, gold chain and black galoshes, Domino had a laugh at tributes worried fans had spray-painted on his house after assuming he had died in the storm.

"There was a big 'Rest in Peace' on my balcony on the other house," the 77-year-old musician said with a laugh. "I'm still here, thank God. I'm alive and kicking."

Outside the bright yellow headquarters of Fats Domino Publishing, Domino's son-in-law, Charles Brimmer, helped the musician load mementos from his legendary career into the car.

Told only three of his 21 gold records -- "Rose Mary," "I'm Walkin'," and "Blue Monday" -- had been found, Domino said, "Well, somebody got the rest of them."

"Or they may be floating around here somewhere," Brimmer suggested.

Brimmer and Domino found some of his jewelry, including a gold ring, in one of his houses. A picture of Domino with Elvis Presley was inside, "but too messed up, we couldn't salvage it," Brimmer said.

Domino was one of a handful of residents sifting through their devastated homes and destroyed belongings in New Orleans' lower Ninth Ward on Saturday afternoon. Domino took a break from the sad task to talk to well-wishers and pose for pictures.

The poor, mostly black Ninth Ward was hit by a tidal surge that brought 12-foot (3.6-meter) floodwaters into many of the homes.

The musician, known for his boogie-woogie piano style, became the hurricane's most famous evacuee after he rebuffed pleas to flee as the August 29 storm bore down on the city. The rotund musician and his wife were rescued from the floodwaters by boat a few days after the storm hit.

"I sure do appreciate that people think so much about me," Domino told Reuters when asked about the concern over his whereabouts immediately following the storm.

He added it might be a good time to put out a record he recorded about two years ago called "Alive and Kicking."

"I'm alive and kicking, thank God," he said.

He was not certain who would release the new music, but said he was scheduled to play in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on November 5 "if I'm feeling better."

Domino's house "did pretty good," considering the devastation of the surrounding Ninth Ward, he said. Two of his pianos in a bigger, adjoining house were ruined, he said.

Domino and his family had been in Texas but are now staying at a hotel in New Orleans. He said he wanted to be close to the neighborhood he was born in while it rebuilds.

"I don't know what to do, move somewhere else or something," Domino said. "But I like it down here."


Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:42 am

I'm glad Fats survived that. Thanks for the post, Rich.

Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:51 am

Alive and Kicking...would love to hear that single. I'm also glad Fats is okay. It was very surreal watching him walk toward his house after someone had spray painted "R.I.P. Fats" on it.

Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:01 pm

I'm curious to know if that pic of Fats & Elvis is one we've seen before, or something that was his personally and unseen by anyone...

But obviously, the important news is he's still here with us. Not too many Rock N' Roll legends left.


Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:58 pm

Not sure, Rich!