jueves, 22 de septiembre de 2016

The Beatles and the Fat Man: the story behind the photo

Image result for the beatles fats domino

The Beatles and the Fat Man: the story behind the photo
By Mike Scott, NOLA.com
The Times-Picayune
September 22, 2016

1964: The Beatles meet Fats Domino
New Orleans musician Fats Domino, second from right, meets with the Beatles -- from left, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon -- in a trailer behind New Orleans' City Park stadium before the band's concert there in September 1964. The Beatles were big fans of Domino's and wanted to meet him while in town.

When the Beatles visited New Orleans for their now-legendary City Park concert in September 1964, they had two primary requests. Following the show, they wanted a day off from their grueling 25-concert, 30-day tour, in order to bask in the music of one of America's most soulful cities; and they wanted to meet local musician Fats Domino, one of their major influences.

Image result for the beatles fats domino
Poster for The Beatles in New Orleans, 16 September 1964

As far as that day off goes, it was scheduled – and then un-scheduled when the band was offered a reported $150,000, which is said to be about six times their normal fee, to add a last-minute concert in Kansas City to the jam-packed tour schedule. (After leaving New Orleans and arriving in Kansas City, the band was asked if there was any place in America they'd love to see. Beatle John Lennon's wistful reply: "New Orleans is one of them.")

And as for meeting the notoriously shy Fats? Well, in that case, they scored – and there's photographic evidence to prove it.

Two photos from that meeting make it into Ron Howard's new Beatles documentary "Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years." And while they are, somewhat disappointingly, the only images from the lads' New Orleans stop to make it into the film, they are still priceless images of an impromptu summit of rock 'n' roll legends.

So, a music fan might wonder, how did that meeting come together anyway? And what's the story behind that photograph?

It's a tale that starts with a Frogman – the Frogman, in fact.

"New Orleans' own Clarence 'Frogman' Henry was one of the opening acts for the City Park concert," said New Orleans tax attorney and Beatles authority Bruce Spizer, who also served as fact-checker on Howard's film. "He joined the Beatles tour midway as a replacement for the Righteous Brothers, who withdrew from the tour after becoming tired of hearing chants of 'We want the Beatles!' during their performances."

It was also Henry who, upon learning of the Beatles' fondness for Domino, told them that he'd try to set up a meeting with the Fat Man. According to Spizer, a British reporter was once quoted as saying the Beatles went to Domino's 9th Ward home to meet him. "But that has not been substantiated and is believed to be a false memory," Spizer said.

In fact, the real trick, according to Beatle Paul McCartney's recounting, was tracking down the reclusive Domino on such short notice. "They found him getting groceries in a store or something," McCartney said at the Kansas City press conference when asked about the New Orleans meeting.

Eventually, Domino and a friend – later identified by Henry as his longtime manager, Bob Astor -- were ferried to a trailer serving as a backstage area behind City Park Stadium. According to Lennon, the Fab Four hung out with Domino for about an hour, took pictures "for his kids. ... Had a sing-song with him."

Soon enough, it was time for the band to say goodbye to Domino and take the stage, which they did before a raucous, sell-out crowd of 12,000 fans. Also there were an estimated 225 New Orleans Police officers, who found themselves repeatedly tackling fans making a break across the open field separating the stage and the stands in the hopes of getting up close and personal with the band.

After an 11-song performance spanning a half hour, it was all over.

"I want to thank everyone for coming, especially the football players," McCartney joked to the crowd in introducing "Long Tall Sally," which would be the final number of the night.

Shortly after, the Beatles were off to Kansas City. Their time on the ground in New Orleans clocked in at less than 24 hours. They never got to see anything but the inside of their hotel room – which, for the record, was Room 100 at the now-defunct Congress Inn in New Orleans East – along with the stadium and the airport.

And, of course, the Fat Man.

Years later, Domino's sense of style was one of the things that stuck out in McCartney's memory of that meeting. "He had a very big diamond watch in the shape of a star, which was very impressive," McCartney said.

That impressive watch is visible in the photographs from that day.

And as for Domino's reaction? "Fats was asked by WWL-TV's Eric Paulsen if he got to meet the Beatles when they were in New Orleans," Spizer said. "Fats famously replied, 'No, they got to meet me.'"

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