Katrina: Fats Domino Is Missing in New Orleans
Blues legend Fats Domino, who found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, is missing in New Orleans along with his entire family.
Fats Domino was missing Thursday, days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, said his longtime agent, Al Embry. Embry told The Associated Press that he hadn’t been able to contact Domino since talking to him Sunday evening by phone. The 77-year-old R&B legend, whose real name is Antoine Domino, told Embry that he planned to stay at his New Orleans house with his wife, Rosemary, and their daughter.
“I hope somebody turns him up, but as of right now, we haven’t got anybody that knows where he’s at,” said Embry, who has worked with Domino for 28 years. “I would think he might be safe because somebody said he was on top of the balcony.”
Checquoline Davis, Domino’s niece, posted a message on Craigslist.com Thursday pleading for information. Davis wrote that Domino, his wife, their children and grandchildren “didn’t get out” of the second floor. Domino, who has rarely appeared in public in recent years, has a home in the 9th ward, a low-lying area of the flooded city.
Domino has sold more than 110 million records in his long career, including the legendary singles “Blueberry Hill” and “Ain’t That a Shame.” His 1950 recording of “The Fat Man” is sometimes called the first real rock ‘n’ roll record. He was among the first honorees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Of course, there are probably hundreds of families in the area hit by Katrina who don’t know whether loved ones are alive or dead. Let’s hope the Dominoes are just unable to get to a working phone and otherwise alright.
Update (2208): Thankfully, this one has a happy ending:
Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Fats Domino was among the thousands of New Orleans residents plucked from rising floodwaters, his daughter said Thursday. Karen Domino White, who lives in New Jersey, identified her father in a picture taken Monday night by a New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer. The photograph shows Domino — the singer behind the 1950s hits “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill” — being helped off a boat near his home in the city’s Lower 9th Ward.
His whereabouts since the rescue were not immediately known. Nor was there any information about his wife, Rosemary, friends said. The neighborhood was heavily flooded when a levee failed as Katrina slammed into southeastern Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Thousands are feared dead in the storm, Louisiana’s governor and the mayor of New Orleans have said, though no official tally has been compiled.
White said she last heard from her father August 23, four days before the storm hit, and was unable to contact him Sunday. “I didn’t have any information. I was just praying,” she said.
Writer Charles Amann said he last spoke to Domino on Sunday, and the singer refused to join the evacuation that was then under way. “He said to me, in that wonderful Southern accent of his, that no, he was staying on — that he had gone through the last one and he could go through this one,” said Amann, who is working on a book on the early days of the “American Bandstand” television program.
I haven’t thought about Fats Domino in years and don’t think I can name a song of his other than “Blueberry Hill” and “Ain’t that a Shame.” Still, in that sea of missing and dead people, even vaguely familiar names and faces stand out. Celebrity is a funny thing.
Editor’s note: As often happens in the Blogosphere, I had three comments noting that Domino had been found during the time I found the story myself and posted the update. Things move quick on the Internets.