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Thomas "Fats" Waller
(May 21st 1904 - December 15th 1943)
This film clip featuring Fats Waller accompanied by a band including Benny Carter trumpet, Slam Stewart string bass, and Zutty Singleton drums; is an excerpt from the 1943 film "Stormy Weather" starring Lena Horne and tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.
*"Ain't Misbehavin'" was composed in 1929 by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks, with lyrics by Andy Razaf.
Born in New York City in 1904 celebrated stride pianist Thomas "Fats" Waller studied under James P. Johnson after learning to play the organ as a youth in his father's church.
At age fifteen he wrote his first ragtime composition and made his debut appearance on record when he was eighteen in October of 1922.
As a performer of increasing demand Waller played with numerous groups including those led by Erskine Tate, Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, and backed singer Adelaide Hall before the formation of his own "Hot Rhythm".
As a composer and lyricist Fats Waller published a tremendous output of material throughout the 1920's and '30's that gained popularity with both black and white audiences alike.
For this coupled with his expressive technique pianist Oscar Levant dubbed Fats Waller "The Black Horowitz" in reference to Russian classical piano composer Vladimir Horowitz who was thought of as the "greatest of all time".
Constant performing and rigors of the road eventually took their toll and Thomas "Fats" Waller passed away from pneumonia while traveling cross country by rail near Kansas City, Missouri on December 15th 1943, shortly after this film's release.
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