Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fats Waller: If You Gotta Ask

Broadcast: May 24, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

One-hour music intensive documentary about Fats Waller, one of America's great composers and performers of the 20th century. His songs, stride piano style and on-stage and on-screen antics were legendary and made him one of the first African-American superstars.


Count Basie sat at his feet to learn, Art Tatum considered Fats the best, and Waller's stride style influenced Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and many others.


Strangely enough, two things happened to Fats after he died: he essentially disappeared from our culture's memory for over 30 years, and when he was talked about, it centered around his clowning and humor, which was sorely misunderstood. Despite his untimely death, Fats Waller spent nearly every day of his short life making the music he loved. In that time, he created a rich, prolific legacy that today is justly revered.


Whether you're a musician, a jazz scholar, or just someone who likes to sing along to "Honeysuckle Rose," you know Fats Waller is one of the all-time greats. And if you gotta ask...


Host: Dick Hyman Producer: Joyride Media (Paul Chuffo & Joshua Jackson) 

Listen click here for audio: