When Fats Waller Met Al Capone


“The Very Best of Fats Waller” (Fats Waller)

Kottke pointed out this great incident in Jazz history.

One evening Fats felt a revolver poked into his paunchy stomach. He found himself bullied into a black limousine, heard the driver ordered to East Cicero. Sweat pouring down his body, Fats foresaw a premature end to his career, but on arrival at a fancy saloon, he was merely pushed toward a piano and told to play. He played. Loudest in applause was a beefy man with an unmistakable scar: Al Capone was having a birthday, and he, Fats, was a present from “the boys”.

The party lasted three days. Fats exhausted himself and his repertoire, but with every request bills were stuffed into his pockets. He and Capone consumed vast quantities of food and drink. By the time the black limousine headed back to the Sherman, Fats had acquired severeal thousand dollars in cash and a decided taste for vintage champagne

[From First encounters: When Fats Waller met Al Capone | Independent, The (London) ]

I’ve always had an affection for Fats Waller (and in fact, we have a song of his that is ‘penciled in‘ to our screenplay), now I love him even more. What a cool cat.

By the way, you could purchase a home previously owned by Al Capone (seen here getting an autographed baseball at Comiskey Park1 ), if you were so inclined:

Want to own a notorious piece of Chicago history?

The modest, red-brick home once owned by Al Capone is expected to hit the market this spring for an estimated $450,000, marking a new chapter for the infamous South Side landmark that has had just two owners since the death of Capone’s mother in 1952.

“I think there’s some value in the home’s history,” said Barbara Hogsette, 71, who has lived in the house since 1963

For more than a century, the two-flat home with large bay windows has stood near the corner of 72nd Street and South Prairie Avenue in the working-class Park Manor neighborhood. Cook County records show the Capones bought the home for $5,500 in August 1923, part of a wave of first- and second-generation European immigrants who moved to that part of the city in the Prohibition era.

  1. Gangster Al Capone and his son having baseball autographed by player Gabby Hartnett aka Charles Leo Hartnett from Capone’s front row seat []

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