NEW ORLEANS – A white Steinway grand piano salvaged from legendary musician Fats Domino’s home after Hurricane Katrina has had its classic looks restored and will be the centerpiece of an exhibit in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
The piano was damaged after water poured through a broken levee during the August 2005 storm, flooding Domino’s home in the Lower 9th Ward, which was devastated by Katrina’s floodwaters.
The piano was unveiled Thursday at the Old U.S. Mint, now a museum in the French Quarter.
Katrina tore into Louisiana and Mississippi on Aug. 29, 2005. Flooding from storm surge and broken levees washed over an estimated 80 per cent of New Orleans.
Domino, born in New Orleans in 1928, sold more than 65 million records between 1950 and 1963, making Billboard’s pop chart 77 times and its rhythm and blues chart 61 times. The pianist, singer and songwriter is regarded as one of the forerunners of rock music, beloved by musicians like the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Billy Joel.
The restoration of Domino’s piano came through $30,000 donated to the Louisiana Museum Foundation.
The largest gift of $18,000 came from Allan Slaight, a retired music producer in Miami. Other donations came from Sir Paul McCartney, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Tipitina’s Foundation.
Greg Lambousy, director of collections for the Louisiana State Museum, described the restoration of Domino’s piano as “painstaking” and a years-long process.
“It was in really bad shape,” he said. “It had been submerged in water for weeks.”
The piano was to be unveiled Thursday at the Old U.S. Mint, now a museum in the French Quarter.
It will be part of the Louisiana State Museum’s music exhibition opening in 2014 but separately will go on display at the Mint in June.
A second Steinway piano belonging to Domino is on permanent display at the Presbytere museum in the exhibition “Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond.”
The white Steinway has been restored to look as close to its original shape as possible, Lambousy said.
However, neither of the Domino pianos is playable.
Still, Lambousy said, they’re important to have.
“Fats Domino is a seminal figure in American music, and he will have a prominent place in the coming Louisiana music exhibit,” said Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who oversees the Louisiana State Museum. “His beautiful grand piano, fully restored, will serve as the perfect symbol for Louisiana’s resilient nature and ever-evolving musical heritage.”