May 21, 1904 Happy Birthday Fats Waller!
Now everyone is asking me who Willie is. Well, Willie is me, and in some ways the name comes from me playing Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Wherever I go people ask me to check out their piano, or whenever I see a piano I check it out and guess what my go-to song is to check the piano…Ain’t Misbehavin’.
So a good buddy of mine Alvin Moody (bass player extraordinaire) who I’ve known and worked with for years (I met him when he was Whitney Houston’s bass player) would call me Ragtime Willie whenever he saw me checking out a piano. I liked that name and I wanted to use it as a stage name, but the ragtime part is a little oldish, so I’m going with Willie.
As for the Swagga – I was playing one night solo piano down at Slane (fun bar) on MacDougal and after a set, Sarah the bartender said to me, “Skip you really got the swagga.” So, Willie & the Swagga!
Anyway, I love Fats Waller – he’s a big influence on Ragtime Willie. Happy Birthday and thanks for the tune. It’s how I get to know the piano I’m about to play.