NEW ORLEANS — The 44th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival drew more than 425,000 patrons during its seven days and two weekends, festival organizers announced on Thursday.

Three days of rain that left mud on the Fair Grounds Race Course infield might have reduced this year’s attendance following 2012’s estimated attendance of 450,000, organizers said.

Billy Joel, however, whose 2008 Jazz Fest was pounded by rain, returned to get his day in the sun during the festival’s first weekend.

Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates and the Little Willies drew massive crowds.

The latter three acts joined other major acts, including Maroon 5, The Black Keys, Phoenix and Patti Smith, in making their Jazz Fest debuts.

The 2013 Jazz Fest also saw a major change to its traditional lineup with the absence of the Neville Brothers from their festival closing day show at the Acura Stage.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and his band, Orleans Avenue, took the Nevilles’ spot this year while Aaron Neville, who’s concentrating on his solo career, performed Sunday’s final set at the Gentilly Stage.

Next year’s festival is scheduled for April 25 through May 4.