The only reason Thomas aka Fats Waller “ain’t misbehavin” is cause he’s long dead. He was born on this day 99 years ago, May 21, 1904.
Best known as the author of “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, this mischievous PK composed a great many songs, played some badass piano, and exhibited an idiosyncratic gusto for life that continues to bring joy many decades later. He had a broad-ranging artistic style that would work in front of upscale musical connisseurs in a concert hall or playing to a whorehouse full of drunks.
His last professional performances were caught in front of Hollywood movie cameras for the classic musical Stormy Weather. You should own this movie and/or the soundtrack. He died a few days later of pneumonia at age 39 on a train headed back to Harlem, December 1943.
Which only adds a bit of poignancy to his spirited performances of the hit, and in a beautiful battle-of-the-sexes duet with Ada Brown, “That Ain’t Right”. It all looked so fine, then it was gone. As he said repeatedly in his hook line on screen and final public words, “One never knows, do one?”
Among Mr. Wallers more stellar recordings, you might sample some of these:
Keeping Out of Mischief Now
Hog Maw Stomp
A Handful of Keys
Tea for Two Powered by Sidelines