Friday, February 11, 2011

Fats

1966, the NCO Club in Hanau, Germany. We'd been out in the field for 60 days, it was our first night back in town and we were celebrating being home. There were about eight of us sitting at a four man table right next to the stage. Tony Copobianco was buying cheap champagne faster than we could drink it. I was next to Jarel Mork, he was an officer and some of my tablemates didn't want him there, but he was my guest. Jarel and I worked together in S3 and we had an exchange program. We either went to the Officer's Club or the NCO Club depending on which had the best music. This night it was no contest. We could go to the Officer's Club with a bunch of stiffs and be subjected to John Denver, who was a nobody folk singer, or be here in the smoke and beer listening to Fats Domino. Poor Fats was nearing the end of a long string of one night stands, playing every smoky, dump NCO Club in U.S. Army Europe, one night after another. He came out onto the little stage wearing a seedy sequined suit and enormous rings. How the hell can a man play piano wearing those things? Judging by his tired, blood-shot eyes and zombie demeanor the poor man desperately needed a break. They were the saddest road map eyes I've ever seen. He sat his ample ass down on the bench, looked square at us and grunted something into the mike, and led off with They Call Me the Fat Man. He was professional, but obviously dog-tired. He seemed to pick up energy as the evening went on and by the time he hit Blueberry Hill he was a full voice, even smiling. Enjoy, I know I did.


1 comment:

Margadant said...

Enjoyed.

When I was down in the Big Easy a couple of years ago we drove by Fat's house when we went to tour the Ninth Ward. The local with us gave us a great story about how Fats bailed out of the window during the Katrina flooding. The house had been restored, but I hated to think of the contents that had been lost or damaged.