A week ago today, on Feb. 26, legendary singer and entertainer Fats Domino celebrated his 86th birthday with family and friends.
This prompted reader Chuck Bucsanyi of Whiting to contact me asking for an update about his "favorite entertainer-of-all-time."
"I have a large collection of Fats Domino vinyl records that I still cherish today," said 68-year-old Bucsanyi.
"I can still recall the first time I ever heard Fats' first big hit 'Blueberry Hill,' after it was released in 1956. It was when my dad Michael took me bowling for the very first time, and we went to the old Knights of Columbus Hall that was on 5th Ave. in Gary, where they had a bowling alley in the basement. I have six daughters, and they've heard this story many times. I've always wanted an autograph from Fats. Will you please give readers an update about how he is doing these days?"
Domino was born and raised in New Orleans with his French Creole family background in the Lower Ninth Ward. On Monday, called Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday, The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee from the institution's inaugural class in 1986, served as the honorary grand marshal at this year's Krewe of Orpheus parade. This week's cold temperatures in the low 30s and chilly rain showers (an unusual combo in New Orleans considering how late Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are observed this year) prevented him from riding on his float for the parade route. But his son, Antoine Domino III, rode in his dad's place.
When Hurricane Katrina was approaching New Orleans in August 2005, Domino chose to stay at his sprawling home at 5515 Marais St. with his family, partly because of his wife Rosemary's poor health. His house was in the area that was heavily flooded and the couple were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. He told media he lost everything, including all of his treasured awards, and moved with his family to neighboring Harvey, Louisiana, where he still resides today. His beloved wife died in 2008. In 2006, President George W. Bush replaced the National Medal of Arts President Bill Clinton had previously awarded Fats, while all of his gold records were replaced by the RIAA and Capitol Records.
As for contacting Fats for an autograph, the two best options are to send your photo/item you'd like signed to either his son Antoine Domino III, 9 Wedgwood Ct, Harvey, LA 70058 or to Fats' longtime agent/manager Al Embry, in care of Al Embry International, P.O. Box 206, Old Hickory, TN 37138. Remember to include a nice note explaining your request and a self-addressed-stamped envelope for the item to be mailed back to you. Of course, I make no guarantees. Good Luck!
Special thank you
My thanks to Kerry and Sarah Moore, owners of Calumet Bakery, established in 1935, located at 18349 Torrence Ave. in Lansing (708-895-3700 or calumetbakery.com) for surprising me Monday with a delicious Mardi Gras King Cake and assorted paczki to share with my parents. I faithfully traveled to New Orleans annually for Mardi Gras celebrations from 1994 to 2004, and always flew home by Fat Tuesday with a King Cake to share.