NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Some of Fats Domino's friends and fans thought he may never return to the stage.
The 79-year-old rock legend's last public performance came Memorial Day 2004, more than a year before Hurricane Katrina washed away his home, his pianos and his gold and platinum records. He had to be rescued by boat from his 9th Ward home after the August 2005 storm.
When Domino took to the stage at a New Orleans nightclub Saturday, his fans and friends were pleased and relieved.
``It was emotional. There were a lot of people crying, people close to him,'' said Quint Davis, producer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. ``It wasn't that the music was living again for us. It wasn't about us. It was about Fats. Fats himself got to experience it again.''
Dressed in a snappy white jacket and his signature white cap, Domino sang and played the first hit of the night, ``I'm Walkin','' and the crowd jumped and screamed when he belted out ``Blueberry Hill'' a few minutes later.
The band, including Domino's longtime friend and musical partner saxophonist Herbert Hardesty, also played ``Blue Monday.'' In all, Domino and company performed about a dozen hits.
The Tipitina's Foundation, which put on Saturday night's show, has teamed with such artists as Elton John, Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Lenny Kravitz, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Paul McCartney and others to record a tribute album of Domino's songs.
Proceeds will benefit the foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing the city's public schools with instruments and helping artists recover from the hurricane. Roughly 25 percent of the proceeds will go toward restoring Domino's home, which is expected cost upward of $100,000, the foundation said.