NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Fats Domino was a New Orleans musical legend when he died last year so it’s only fitting that his death – and his music – receive a special send-off this year during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Organizers on Saturday will mark the occasion with a jazz funeral as well as a special tribute performance in his honor.
“There are two New Orleans musicians … that changed the music of the whole world. That’s Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino,” said festival producer Quint Davis, who said he had a “wonderful time” going back and listening to Domino’s music to prepare for the festival.
Domino sold more than 110 million records, with hits including “Blueberry Hill,” ”Ain’t That a Shame” and other standards of rock ‘n’ roll. The rock ‘n’ roll pioneer helped change popular music with his steady, pounding piano and easy baritone. Despite his fame, he always stayed loyal to New Orleans. After 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as floodwaters swept the city, he and his family were rescued by boat from his home but he lost three pianos and dozens of gold and platinum records and other memorabilia.
The tribute concert Saturday will feature various members of Domino’s band who are still playing, as well as special musical guests like Bonnie Raitt and Jon Batiste.
The jazz funeral will feature the Tornado Brass Band as well as three of the city’s social aid and pleasure clubs. They will parade to an area of the concert venue that’s referred to as the ancestor area because it features paintings on plywood of various luminaries associated with the festival who have passed away. Davis said Domino’s painting will show him sitting at a grand piano, back-to-back with a portrait of musician and pianist Allen Toussaint, who died in 2015.
Domino is also featured on this year’s festival poster.
“He’s with us everywhere,” said Davis.