Fats Waller

Jazz Musician, Singer, and Songwriter Fats Waller

Full Name: Thomas Wright Waller
Profession: Jazz Musician, Singer, and Songwriter

United States of America

Biography: Waller was one of the most popular African-American jazz pianists of the 1930s. He began performing as an organist for silent movies, moving on to the piano for club dates and Broadway shows. His longstanding band "His Rhythm" were early successes from the infancy of recording in the mid 1920s and continued through to his death in the early 1940s. His energy and spontaneity and the band's continuity resulted in many one-take recordings which were both popular and profitable.

In addition to his music, Waller earned fame as a comedic radio performer on shows such as the "Rhythm Club", and was starting to transition to film when he passed away.

Recognition for his contributions continued long after his early death.

His jazz hits include now standards "Ain't Misbehavin'", "Honeysuckle Rose", and "Squeeze Me". The first two of which were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The 1977 cult film "Eraserhead" by David Lynch featured Waller's rare jazz on pipe organ recordings. A long-running Broadway revue "Ain't Misbehavin'" debuted in 1978, winning several Tony Awards, and Emmy Award; the 1988 revival won a Grammy Award.

Waller was inducted into The Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1970; The Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1989; and awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.

Born: May 21, 1904
Birthplace: NYC, New York, USA

Generation: Greatest Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Dragon
Star Sign: Gemini

Died: December 15, 1943 (aged 39)
Cause of Death: Bronchial pneumonia

Historical Events

  • 1943-07-21 Musical film "Stormy Weather", directed by Andrew L. Stone, starring Bill Robinson, Lena Horne and Fats Waller (singing "Ain't Misbehavin'") premieres in the US
  • 1982-02-21 Musical review of Fats Waller songs "Ain't Misbehavin'", starring Nell Carter and Irene Cara, closes at Longacre Theater, NYC, after 1604 performances, winning 3 Tony and 4 Drama Desk Awrds
  • 1988-08-15 Revival of musical revue "Ain't Misbehavin'", highlighting songs of Fats Waller, opens at Ambassador Theater, NYC; runs for 176 performances

Biographies and Sources