Last Friday, Fats Domino was scheduled to sign copies of the new Fats tribute CD, Goin' Home at the Columbus Circle Borders at 7 p.m.. He was in town for a performance on "Late Show with David Letterman" (cancelled because of the strike), a "Today Show" appearance, and a benefit concert for the Tipitina's Foundation, where he received a key to the city from Mayor Bloomberg. Unfortunately, the signing was at the end of the trip for Fats, and by Friday night he was apparently worn out and not up to the signing. According to the highly entertaining blog of the trip kept by Times-Picayune writer Keith Spera, Fats was sleeping at the time of the signing and since his hand had swelled up and he seemed exhausted earlier in the day, all those involved decided it was best to let Fats get some rest. Fine with me. Completely understandable if a few hectic days got the better of him. And even without having read the blog, I figured Fats wouldn't just not show up for no good reason. I suspected he wasn't back at the hotel doing blow off a hooker's ass while playing "My Blue Heaven" in the hotel lounge.
Plus, the Fats camp did all they could to salvage the event, passing out CD booklets Fats had already signed and promising that those who bought multiple copies could leave their addresses and get a signed booklet and an extra bonus in the mail. Still, people were indignant when news started to filter through the line. Most seemed to settle down, including the guy behind me who spent most of our first 15 minutes in line droning on about how long the line was and how we'd be there until 9:30 at night. He was initially hurt ("I woulda never come if I knew this was gonna happen"), but then seemed to relax. And another guy eased the evening's pain by shoving about 10 WFUV lip balms in his pockets after the girl from FUV suggested he could have one.
But then as I left and gathered my stuff outside the store, some dude about my age came up to me.
"Hey, man, I just got here. What's the deal with Fats?"
"Yeah, they said he was sick and couldn't make it."
"Man, that's such bullshit."
"Yeah, well, the guy's 79 years old..."
"Yeah, I know, but I went to the show last night and he only played "Blueberry Hill" for 43 seconds--I timed it--and then he played piano for the guy, um, 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy'..."
"Yes, thank you. And then he just did that song and left the stage."
"And that's it. He's not coming back. This is the last time. Very disappointing, man."
It was at that point that I was almost glad Fats Domino was sick enough to miss meeting that creep. People worry me sometimes. Between this and recently seeing a woman reach through a crowd just to touch Roger Daltrey, I'm starting to wonder if I'm traveling in the wrong circles.