Fats Domino, a founding father of rock 'n' roll, an R&B legend and a New Orleans saint, summarizes his 58-year recording career with sweet sincerity: "There's not too much to talk about."
He squirms slightly in his metal chair near the stage of Tipitina's nightclub and continues in his thick Creole patois. "I'm glad that people liked me and my music. I guess it was an interesting life. I didn't pay much attention, and I never thought I'd be here this long." And then his anxiety dissolves as he jumps into the title track of his 2006 album, Alive and Kickin':
The 2005 hurricane capsized Domino's life, though he's loath to confess any inconvenience or misery outside of missing his social circle in the Lower Ninth Ward, still destroyed and deserted despite some signs of renewal. The smaller of his two side-by-side homes there is nearly restored, with fresh funds expected from a star-studded tribute album out Tuesday on Vanguard.
Goin' Home, a 30-track double disc, boasts Domino classics remade by New Orleans heroes from Allen Toussaint to Dr. John, plus such Fats admirers as Tom Petty, Elton John, Randy Newman and Norah Jones. In addition to renovating Domino's Caffin Avenue home, proceeds will fund other Tipitina's Foundation projects, including Instruments a Comin', which aids area school band programs.
The tribute is why Domino, arriving with his favorite cabdriver, came from his current home in Harvey, La., to the Uptown club for a rare interview.
...He sold more than 65 million records and scored 37 top 40 hits during his stint at Imperial Records (1949-1963). Only Elvis Presley sold more rock records in the '50s. Eclipsed by his disciples, Domino never complained about his place in rock's pantheon: "I'm satisfied with what happened." ...