Fats Waller
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1904-05-21
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Fats Waller Biography (BBC)

A giant of a man in every way, Waller was the outstanding exponent of the Harlem 'stride' style of jazz piano, drawing together the innovations of Willie 'The Lion' Smith and James P. Johnson into a coherent style, and taking it to the boundaries of technical possibility. He was also a major influence on the pianists that followed, including Art Tatum.

As well as being a brilliant pianist, Waller was a witty and entertaining singer, a bandleader, a composer of hundreds of songs, and a pioneer of jazz broadcasting. He began his career in Harlem as a teenager, playing organ for silent movies at the Lincoln Theatre. In the early 1920s he went on the road with singer Katie Krippen, and having perfected the art of vaudeville accompaniment, he made discs with several other singers including Alberta Hunter.

He made his first solo recordings in 1922, and other musicians began to record his compositions from the following year. By the late 1920s he was in demand as a recording artist, as the composer of stage shows such as Keep Shufflin' and Hot Chocolates, and as a guest organist at theatres across the USA. In 1929 he cut his greatest piano solo records, including Handful of Keys, that are a masterly document of the Harlem stride style at its best.

During the Depression, as opportunities to record declined, Waller began to broadcast, singing on air and on disc, and eventually leading to the formation of his sextet the Rhythm, in 1934. He made hundreds of discs with this band, ranging from brilliant jazz to sentimental songs, as well as dozens of numbers that were so banal that they were redeemed only by Waller's brilliant artistry and wicked sense of humour.

Songs such as My Very Good Friend the Milkman and Your Feet's Too Big were among his many hits, the latter being made into a short movie. Waller's other films included Hooray For Love and most importantly Stormy Weather, in which he starred opposite Lena Horne and Cab Calloway. Waller came to Britain in 1938 and 1939, making many discs in England, including his exquisite London Suite for solo piano, some hard-swinging band numbers with his 'Continental Rhythm', and some delicate duets with singer Adelaide Hall.

His gargantuan appetites, and a chaotic personal life which involved prison spells for non-payment of alimony, eventually caught up with this larger-than-life character, and despite professing his intention to slow down and spend more time at home, he died from pneumonia on the train journey back from an arduous West Coast trip to spend Christmas with his family in New York.

Fats Waller Biography (Wikipedia)

Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller (May 21, 1904 – December 15, 1943) was an American jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer. His innovations to the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano. His best-known compositions, "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose", were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1984 and 1999.

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.



Fats Waller Tracks

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Fats Waller
All That Meat and No Potatoes
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All That Meat and No Potatoes
Fats Waller
Handful of Keys
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Handful of Keys
Fats Waller
Ain't Misbehavin'
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Ain't Misbehavin'
Fats Waller
Your Feet's Too Big
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Your Feet's Too Big
Fats Waller
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
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I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
Fats Waller
Ain't Misbehavin'
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Ain't Misbehavin'
Fats Waller and His Continental Rhythm
Honeysuckle Rose
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Honeysuckle Rose
Fats Waller
I Wish I Were Twins
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I Wish I Were Twins
Slick Jones
Two Sleepy People
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Two Sleepy People
Fats Waller
Honeysuckle Rose
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Honeysuckle Rose
Fats Waller
Spring Cleaning
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Spring Cleaning
Fats Waller
Alligator Crawl
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Alligator Crawl
Jack Teagarden & Fats Waller
That's What I Like About You
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That's What I Like About You
Fats Waller and His Rhythm
Your Feets Too Big
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Your Feets Too Big
Fats Waller
Last Night A Miracle Happened
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Last Night A Miracle Happened
Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie Orchestra
Honeysuckle Rose
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Honeysuckle Rose
Fats Waller
Everybody Loves My Baby
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Everybody Loves My Baby
Fats Waller
Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood, Mama)
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Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood, Mama)
Fats Waller
Mandy
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Mandy
Fats Waller
Jingle Bells
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Jingle Bells
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