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 charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 7.74 video, 13.82 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
First posted 11/1/2016; last updated 9/5/2023.