26 Facts About Fats Waller

1.

Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller was an American jazz pianist, organist, composer, violinist, singer, and comedic entertainer.

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2.

Fats Waller started playing the piano at the age of six, and became a professional organist at 15.

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3.

Fats Waller was a prolific songwriter, and one of the most popular performers of his era, touring internationally and achieving critical and commercial success in the United States and Europe.

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4.

Fats Waller started playing the piano when he was six and graduated to playing the organ at his father's church four years later.

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5.

Fats Waller's mother instructed him in his youth, and he attended other music lessons, paying for them by working in a grocery store.

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6.

Fats Waller attended DeWitt Clinton High School for one semester, but left school at 15 to work as an organist at the Lincoln Theater in Harlem, where he earned $32 a week.

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7.

Fats Waller was the prize pupil and later the friend and colleague of the stride pianist James P Johnson.

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8.

Fats Waller's first published composition, "Squeeze Me", was published in 1924.

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9.

Fats Waller is believed to have composed many novelty tunes in the 1920s and 1930s and sold them for small sums, attributed to another composer and lyricist.

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10.

Fats Waller noted that early handwritten manuscripts in the Dana Library Institute of Jazz Studies of "Spreadin' Rhythm Around" are in Waller's hand.

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11.

Maurice Fats Waller wrote that his father objected to hearing "On the Sunny Side of the Street" on the radio.

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12.

Fats Waller played with Nathaniel Shilkret, Gene Austin, Erskine Tate, Fletcher Henderson, McKinney's Cotton Pickers, and Adelaide Hall.

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13.

Fats Waller was kidnapped in Chicago while leaving a performance in 1926.

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14.

Fats Waller was ordered inside the building and found a party taking place.

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15.

Fats Waller appeared in several feature films and short subject films, most notably Stormy Weather in 1943, which was released July 21, just months before his death.

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16.

Fats Waller performed Bach organ pieces for small groups on occasion.

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17.

Fats Waller influenced many pre-bebop jazz pianists; Count Basie and Erroll Garner both revived his hit songs.

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18.

Fats Waller's Victor recording of "A Little Bit Independent", written by Joe Burke and Edgar Leslie, was No 1 on Your Hit Parade for two weeks in 1935.

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19.

Broadway producer Richard Kollmar's hiring of Fats Waller to create the 1943 musical Early to Bed was recalled in a 2016 essay about Fats Waller by John McWhorter, an American academic and linguist who is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

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20.

Fats Waller married Edith Hatchett in 1920, with whom he had his first son, Thomas Fats Waller Jr.

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21.

In 1938, Fats Waller was one of the first African Americans to purchase a home in the Addisleigh Park section of St Albans, Queens, a New York City community with racially restrictive covenants.

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22.

Fats Waller's final recording session was with an interracial group in Detroit, Michigan, that included white trumpeter Don Hirleman.

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23.

Fats Waller was returning to New York City from Los Angeles, after the smash success of Stormy Weather, and a successful engagement at the Zanzibar Room in Santa Monica, California, during which he had fallen ill.

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24.

Broadway musical showcasing Fats Waller tunes entitled Ain't Misbehavin' was produced in 1978 and featured Nell Carter, Andre de Shields, Armelia McQueen, Ken Page, and Charlaine Woodard.

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25.

Recordings of Fats Waller were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame which is a special Grammy Award established in 1973 to honour recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance".

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26.

Fats Waller has been with me from the first, and he'll be with me as long as I live.

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