Fats Waller was an outsize man in all respects: five feet, eleven inches tall, he weighed 285 pounds. The greatest of the Harlem “stride” pianists, he composed hundreds of songs, he led a band that made over 400 recordings, and he wrote several Broadway shows. Waller’s gargantuan appetites have been celebrated in anecdotes and earlier biographies.He is seen by jazz historians as a man of immense musical talent that was never fulfilled.
In this fully revised and updated biography of Waller, Alyn Shipton re-examines his career, arguing that his talents as a songwriter, show composer, and brilliant recording and broadcasting artist have not been fully appreciated.
In a newly written final chapter, there is a comprehensive survey of Waller’s recordings as they have been reissued for the CD era.