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Music / Fats Waller

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Ain't misbehavin' / I'm savin' my love for you

"Jazz isn't what you do, it's how you do it."

Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller (May 21, 1904 – December 15, 1943) was an African-American jazz musician and singer.

A Harlem native, Waller started playing piano at the age of six, and later began recording for Victor Records in 1926. Over the next twenty years, he recorded numerous jazz records and composed songs for a few musicals. His work includes compositions such as "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Jitterbug Waltz", along with covers of pre-existing songs such as "After You've Gone," "Go Down Moses" and "Viper Drag."

Sadly, his career was cut short in 1943, when he passed away from pneumonia while traveling cross-country via train.

He also appeared in the films King Of Burlesque, Hooray For Love, and Stormy Weather.

His great-grandson, Darren (born 1992), is a National Football League player.

Tropes present in Fats Waller's stage persona and his music include:

  • Big Fun: Waller exuded this image of a performer who is big, fat and entertaining and fun to be around, so much so that his stage name "Fats" was based on it.
  • Cigar Chomper: Downplayed. Waller was sometimes shown with a cigar in his mouth, such as in the image shown here, but more often he didn't have one.
  • Fun Personified: He was known for his lively personality on the stage.
  • Holy Pipe Organ: He was known for playing jazzy music on the organ, and his work includes two different covers (one with his vocals and one all instrumental) of the spiritual folk tune "Go Down Moses".
  • Something Blues: Fats had quite a few recordings with this sort of title including Basin Street Blues, Birmingham Blues and Sloppy Water Blues.
  • You Are Fat: He was nicknamed "Fats" because of his....rotundness.