Fats Waller

I was celebrating Fats Waller's Birthday (May 21) with my piano students and teaching them this song, Ain't Misbehavin'... love the song! Fats played stride piano very well!

I found this great article online by Rick Busciglio, Swing and Big Band Examiner.

"Jazz great "Fats Waller was born 105 years ago on this date (May 21). Per AllAboutJazz: "He was music's first organist and one of the giants of piano jazz. Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller was born on May 21, 1904 in Harlem into a musical family. His family had moved to New York City from Virginia in the late 1880s and his father was the pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. His first exposure of music was in the form of church hymns and organ music, an instrument that he was taught to play by his mother and the church musical director. When he was about 6 or 7, his mother hired a piano tutor for him. He learned how to read and write music from his piano teacher but he preferred to play “by ear.”

Read more of Fats Waller's stride piano style and how in 1993 Waller was posthumously recognized by the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


* Fats Waller Biography

* Born: 21 May 1904
* Birthplace: New York, New York
* Died: 15 December 1943 (Pneumonia)
* Best Known As: Joyous piano player who wrote "Ain't Misbehavin'"

Name at birth: Thomas Wright Waller

Fats Waller played stride piano and pipe organ, beginning his career making player piano rolls in the 1920s. He accompanied singers on the vaudeville stage (including Bessie Smith) and wrote hit songs such as "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose." Waller's rollicking style and sense of humor made him a popular star, and his output was tremendous. He had a reputation for wild living, and it eventually caught up to him: he developed pneumonia and died on a train near Kansas City at the age of 39.

Waller's last performance was in the 1943 film Stormy Weather.


* Fats Waller Songs

"Fats Waller" Original E Flat Blues

"Fats" Waller Stomp

"Send Me" Jackson

(In My) Solitude

(Oh Susannah) Dust off That Old Pianna

(Take Me Back to) The Wide Open Places

(There's Yes in the Air In) Martinique

(When You) Squeeze Me

(You Know It All) Smarty

(You're A) Square from Delaware

(You're Some) Pretty Doll

See complete list of Fats Waller Songs


My favorite songs are Ain't Misbehavin', I'm Gonna sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, and Honeysuckle Rose. You can download the first page for free at



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