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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
New Orleans (Reuters): Fats Domino, whose cancelled performance was one of few disappointments at New Orleans' first post-Katrina jazz festival, said on Tuesday it hurt him to miss the show, but he felt too weak to play for the huge crowd. Domino, 78, had been slated to close the two-weekend musical extravaganza on Sunday. Tens of thousands of fans who came to hear the rock 'n' roll pioneer were rattled to hear he had been taken to a hospital and would not perform.
In an impromptu interview in front of the pianist and singer's flood-damaged house in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, he declined to say what his diagnosis was. ''Regardless of what the doctor tells you, I know how I feel,'' he said yesterday. ''I wasn't feeling good and I was too weak. I was too weak to go on stage,'' he said.
Domino, whose image graced the poster for the 2006 New Orleans Jazz&Heritage Festival as a symbol of survival for the battered city's musical scene, looked slightly frail, but was in good spirits, even breaking into song at times in his trademark baritone. After visiting his doctor on Sunday, and deciding to cancel his performance, he made a brief appearance on the festival's main stage to apologize for being a no-show.
''I wanted to play for the people, not for the money. It was the people I wanted to play for,'' he told Reuters. ''It hurts me when I don't play ...It hurts me when I can't perform like I want to.'' The native New Orleanian was one of the first artists to cast rhythm and blues into the American mainstream in the 1950s with such hits as ''Ain't That a Shame,'' ''I Want to Walk You Home'' and ''Blueberry Hill.''
Domino was unaccounted for immediately after Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans on August. 29 sparking rumors that he died in the ensuing flood. Someone even spray-painted the words ''R.I.P. Fats you will be missed'' on a building beside his house in the Lower Ninth, the eastern New Orleans neighborhood that sustained the most damage from the levee breaches triggered by the storm. Domino had evacuated safely, but his house and pianos were ruined. He has recently lived in a community across the Mississippi River. He said he now feels ''pretty good.'' ''I haven't been out too much. Maybe I've been staying at home too much,'' Domino said.
''I'm getting older now, you know? But that's OK-If you don't get old, you got to die young.'' Apart from his cancellation, festival organisers deemed the event, which also featured such big names as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Etta James, a major success.