He died from bronchial pneumonia on December 15, , in Kansas City, Missouri. He learned to play piano at the age of 6, and within a few years was also learning the reed organ, string bass and violin. After dropping out of school at around age 15, he became an organist at the Lincoln Theatre in Harlem. Waller moved in with the family of pianist Russell B. Brooks, who introduced the youngster to James P.
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He also had a touch that varied from subtle and extremely light to very powerful. He was a master of dynamics and tension and release. But it was his singing, songwriting, and his lovable, roguish stage personality that sold his hundreds of recordings for RCA Victor, in a day when much of society did not recognize jazz as "serious" music. He played with many performers, from Gene Austin to Erskine Tate to Adelaide Hall, but his greatest success came with his own five- or six-piece combo, "Fats Waller and his Rhythm".
Fats Waller was in Chicago in and, upon leaving the building where he was performing, Waller was kidnapped by four men, who bundled him into a car and drove off. The car later pulled up outside the Hawthorne Inn, owned by infamous gangster Al Capone. Fats was ordered inside the building, to find a party in full swing. With a gun against his back, Waller was pushed towards a piano, whereupon the gangsters demanded he start playing. When he left the Hawthorne Inn, he was very drunk, extremely tired, and had earned thousands of dollars in cash given to him by Capone himself and by party-goers as tips.
Waller made a successful tour of the British Isles in the late s, and appeared in one of the earliest BBC Television broadcasts. He appeared in several feature films and short subject films, most notably "Stormy Weather" in , which was released only months before his death. This song, a searing treatment of racism, black and white, calls into question the early accusations of "shallow entertainment" ignorantly leveled at both Armstrong and Waller.
Waller could read and write music well from his classical keyboard studies and would even, on occasion, perform organ works of Bach for small groups.
He left his stamp on many per-bop jazz pianists. Count Basie and Erroll Garner, for example, would have sounded very different absent the Waller sound. Although the stride style, like all jazz, must be learned primarily by ear, many scholars have transcribed his brilliant improvisations from old recordings and radio broadcasts, in sheet music form.
Fats Waller is the greatest if i can someday use a time machine then i would like to meet him. Was this review helpful to you?
Ain't Misbehavin' (song)
The New York Times reviewer wrote: "The show moves with the zing and sparkle of a Waller recording-filled with bright melodies and asides. The musical opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on May 9, , and transferred to the Plymouth Theatre and then to the Belasco Theatre and closed on February 21, , after performances and fourteen previews. Maltby was the director, with musical staging and choreography by Arthur Faria. An original cast recording was released by RCA Victor.
Ain't Misbehavin' (song)
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