Tuesday, February 05, 2008

He ain't misbehavin'

Here's a fantastic story I came across on Wikipedia:

Fats Waller was in Chicago in 1926 and, upon leaving the building where he was performing, he 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, where he found a party in full swing. With a gun against his back, Waller was pushed towards a piano, whereupon the gangsters demanded he start playing. A terrified Waller suddenly realized he was the "surprise guest" at Al Capone's birthday party. Soon comforted by the fact that he wouldn't die, Waller played, according to rumor, for three days. 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.

What kind of pianist would be in such high demand? Why, the one who wrote "Ain't Misbehavin'"...

"Your Feet's Too Big" (as a size 14, I can relate)...

And "This Joint Is Jumpin'."

For all his playing, writing, and singing skills, what's going to stay with me longest is his mugging. Al Pacino wishes he could chew this much scenery.

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