Thursday, November 1, 1979

50 years ago: Fats Waller releases “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Fats Waller

Writer(s): Fats Waller, Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf (see lyrics here)

Released: November 1, 1929

First Charted: November 9, 1929

Peak: 17 US, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Waller, a New York City-born pianist and organ accompanist during the ‘20s, collaborated on several Broadway musical scores…[and] broke through as one of the country’s most popular entertainers due to his playful, high-spirited vocals, and distinctive stride piano style, and jazz accompaniment. PM

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” was written for the 1929 all-black revue Hot Chocolates and debuted by Louis Armstrong, who credited the revue with launching his career. TY It was so popular it moved to Broadway, RCG where Armstrong made his bring-the-house-down debut. JA It ran “for a very respectable 219 performances, seventh best out of the thirty-four musicals that opened in 1929.” SS

Armstrong also recorded the song JA and charted with it (#7) in 1929, as did Leo Reisman (#2), Bill Robinson with Irving Mills (#8), Gene Austin (#9), and Ruth Etting (#16). However, it was Waller’s own piano solo version (#17) which became the classic. JA Waller would sing the song with Ada Brown in the film Stormy Weather (1943) JA and it was featured in 1951’s The Strip (1951). MM

In 1937, Teddy Wilson took the song back to the top 10. Ray Charles, Nat “King” Cole, Billie Holiday, Earth Kitt, Kay Starr, Dinah Washington, and Hank Williams Jr. also recorded the song. RCG Comedian George Burns made it his signature song, announcing to his partner Gracie Allen that he “could sing a million songs” to which she’d reply, “Yeah, but you only know one.” Then George would start singing the jingle for whoever was sponsoring his radio show, but it would turn into “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” RCG


  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Fats Waller
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 5.
  • MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Page 149.
  • RCG The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 449.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 46.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 435.

First posted 11/1/2016; last updated 12/27/2021.

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