Monday, July 16, 2007
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Fats Waller
Thomas "Fats" Waller was a pioneer of black music. He was a master pianist, a great songwriter and showman. He was born May 21, 1904 in New York City. He took up piano at age six and as a teen studied with legendary stride pianist James P. Johnson and also took classical piano lessons. He first recorded for Okeh in 1922 but signed with RCA Victor in 1926. Waller started getting attention as a composer in the mid-20s and his songs started turning up in Broadway shows. Ain't Misbehavin' was in the 1929 show Hot Chocolates. It was covered by other artists but Waller didn't have a hit with it until later. This version is from 1937. This various artists comp is good for beginners and features songs by Duke Ellington & Dizzy Gillespie among others. RCA has released several Fats Waller comps. He became more popular as a performer in the 40s especially in the 1943 film Stormy Weather. Several jazz pianists have credited Waller as a major influence and Count Basie studied with him. Fats Waller was a big man and continued to indulge in food & booze. He became ill during a gig in Los Angeles and died on the way home of pneumonia in Union Station in Kansas City on Dec. 15, 1943 at age 39. Here's a 1941 Soundie of Fats Waller & Myra Johnson performing Ain't Misbehavin'. Fortunately, we still get to see how talented Fats Waller was.