One of the most entertaining composer singer and pianists was Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller. His rollicking didoes were legendary as he played his way into America's heart
Born in New York City, the son of a churchman's first musical experience was playing harmonium for his father's street services. As a child he delighted his classmates by rolling his eyes and making faces while playing piano at school ensemblies.
His first paying musical job was playing organ background music for silent films. Shortly after he was introduced to the legendary stride tickler, James Price Johnson. Johnson took Waller under his wing and within months had improved his play and introduced him to his first Harlem rent party. By age eighteen, Waller had recorded his first piano roll.
During the twenties, one of the finest songwriting teams of the era was formed, when Waller was introduced to lyricist Andy Razaf. Numbers such as Ain't Misbehavin, Honeysuckle Rose and (What Did I Do to be So) Black and Blue came out of this partnership which prospered until Wallers death..
Though his skills on the piano introduced him to fame, it wasn't until after Fats started to sing that he became famous. From 1930 til 1944, Fats made over five hundred recordings and he was recognized from the streets of Harlem to Danish nightclubs as he toured extensively and appeared on numerous radio broadcasts as well as in some Hollywood feature films and shorts. Fats died on board an express train near Union Station in Kansas City.
- Fats Waller's Band in 1936.
CDs in Print
- Fats Waller's recordings on CD