Thomas 'Fats' Waller was the son of a preacher and learned to play the organ in church with his mother. In 1918 he won a talent contest playing James P. Johnson's Carolina Shout, which he learned from watching a pianola play the song.

He would later take piano lessons from Johnson. Fats began his recording career in 1922 and made a living playing rent parties, as an organist at movie theatres and as an accompanist for various vaudeville acts.


In 1927 he co-wrote a couple of tunes with his old piano teacher James P. Johnson for his show "Keep Shufflin'". Two years later Waller wrote the score for the Broadway hit "Hot Chocolates" with lyrics supplied by his friend Andy Razaf. Fats' most famous song, "Ain't Misbehavin'" was introduced in this show which featured Louis
Armstrong.


Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s Fats was a star of radio and nightclubs, and toured Europe. He unexpectedly died on board a train near Kansas City, Missouri of pneumonia in 1943.

Click here for information about the Broadway production.