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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » W » Waller, Fats

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Fats Waller (5/21/1904 - 12/15/1943)

Thomas Waller
Composer, Pianist

Fats Waller was a child prodigy who studied piano with virtuoso jazz pianist/composer James P. Johnson. He was a larger-than-life entertainer of huge appetites who approached his compositions from the viewpoint of a jazzman, creating swinging melodies and beautiful chord changes.

His first published composition, with lyrics by Jo Trent, was “In Harlem’s Araby” from 1924. The following year he had his first hit with “Squeeze Me,” lyrics credited to Clarence Williams but possibly written by Andy Razaf. His most fruitful collaboration was with lyricist Razaf, whose mother considered Waller her “other son.” They produced a string of hits in 1929, among them “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Black and Blue (What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue),” “I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling,” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” made famous by many artists including Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong. The hits continued with “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” (1932), “The Joint Is Jumpin’” (1940), and “Jitterbug Waltz” (1942). There has been controversy over the authorship of some of his compositions because he was known to occasionally sell songs to other writers to pay off his debts.



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