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Fats Waller

2017
Authors:

Maurice Waller and Anthony Calabrese
Foreword by Michael Lipskin

Fats Waller

The exuberant life and times of a jazz giant with an unmatched zest for life and music

Thomas “Fats” Waller was a legendary stride pianist, a wildly entertaining comedic singer, and the composer of such classic melodies as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and hundreds more. From his earliest days as a child prodigy to his wild nights playing Harlem rent parties to his appearances on stages around the world and his eventual commercial success, it’s all here.

Fats was my first jazz piano influence and his spirit is still vital to my approach to jazz . . . Maurice Waller’s book about his father clarifies what has been for so long just story and rumor. Now I feel I know his legend from an authentic source—his son. Thanks, Maurice. Fats lives, indeed.

Dave Brubeck

Thomas “Fats” Waller was a legendary stride pianist, a wildly entertaining comedic singer, and the composer of such classic melodies as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and hundreds more. This is the intimate, behind-the-scenes story of his exuberant life, as told by his son, Maurice Waller. The public knew him as a charming, rascally, and effervescent showman. Friends like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin knew him as a serious piano stylist and composer. Maurice Waller reveals the rarely seen side of Fats as a family man, struggling to juggle domestic affairs with the demands of being one of the era’s busiest jazz men. From his earliest days as a child prodigy to his wild nights playing Harlem rent parties to his appearances on stages around the world and his eventual commercial success, it’s all here. Few stories capture the frenetic energy of the age quite as well as the life story of this rollicking, hard living jazz icon.

Fats Waller

Maurice Waller (1927–1989) was a composer, pianist, and the son of legendary musician Fats Waller.

Anthony Calabrese (1938–1996) was a freelance writer, journalist, and film producer.

Michael Lipskin is a veteran stride pianist and former protégé of Harlem jazz master Willie “the Lion” Smith.

Fats Waller

Fats was my first jazz piano influence and his spirit is still vital to my approach to jazz . . . Maurice Waller’s book about his father clarifies what has been for so long just story and rumor. Now I feel I know his legend from an authentic source—his son. Thanks, Maurice. Fats lives, indeed.

Dave Brubeck

A delightful look into the Jazz Age.

Chicago Tribune

Maurice Waller’s look-back at life with, or mostly without, his father is an affectionate and remarkably objective portrait of a lovable, exasperating, comedy-prone, joy-spreading, and excessively self-indulgent and talented jazz pianist, organist, and composer, who was also a warm and generous parent.

Christian Science Monitor

Fats Waller

Contents
Foreword by Michael Lipskin
Acknowledgments
1. 1864–1904
The Background of the Waller Family
2. 1914–1919
Fats Discovers Harlem Nightlife
3. 1919
The Death of Fats’ Mother
4. 1920–1922
Fats Meets James P. Johnson and Willie The Lion Smith
5. 1922–1924
Fats Marries Edith
6. 1923–1924
Fats and the Music Publishers
7. 1924–1926
Fats Meets His Second Wife and Captain Maines
8. 1927–1928
Fats Writes Keep Shufflin’
9. 1928–1929
Fats Writes Load of Coal
10. 1930–1931
Fats Becomes a Recording Regular for RCA
11. 1932–1933
Fats Goes to Work for WWL
12. 1934–1936
Fats Makes It to the Top as a Composer and Recording Artist
13. 1937–1943
Buster Shepherd Remembers the Good and the Bad Times
14. 1940–1943
Fats at His Peak as a Recording Artist and Songwriter
15. Maurice Remembers His Father
16. 1943
The Death of Fats

Recording Dates and Personnel
Fats Waller’s Published Songs
Fats Waller’s Unpublished Songs
Fats Waller’s Piano Rolls
Song Arrangements
Index