Ain't Misbehavin' (song)

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"Ain't Misbehavin'"
Single by Thomas Waller ("Fats" Waller)
A-side "Ain't Misbehavin'"
B-side "Sweet Savannah Sue"
Released August 2, 1929 (1929-08-02)
Format 78rpm 10" shellac single, mono
Genre instrumental stride, Trad jazz, swing,
Length approx. 3 minutes
Label Victor #22108
Songwriter(s) RazafWallerBrooks

Ain't Misbehavin' is a 1929 stride jazz/early swing song with 32 bars in measure AABA and a pace slow-to-moderate. With lyrics by Andy Razaf and score by Thomas "Fats" Waller and Harry Brooks,[1] the song was created specifically as a theme song for the Razaf/Waller/Brooks Broadway musical comedy play Connie's Hot Chocolates.[2][3] During a 1941 interview by Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Waller said the song was written while "lodging" in prison (for an alimony violation), and that is why he was not "misbehaving".

First performances[edit]

The song was first performed at the premiere of Connie's Hot Chocolates in Harlem at Connie's Inn as an opening song by Margaret Simms and Paul Bass, and repeated later in the musical by Russell Wooding's Hallelujah Singers. Connie's Hot Chocolates was transferred to the Hudson Theatre on Broadway during June 1929, where it was renamed to Hot Chocolates and where Louis Armstrong became the orchestra director. The script also required Armstrong to play Ain't Misbehavin' in a trumpet solo, and although this was initially slated only to be a reprise of the opening song, Armstrong's performance was so well received that the trumpeter was asked to climb out of the orchestra pit and play the piece on stage.


During the first half of the 20th century, when a tune was successful in terms of sheet music sold, it was typically recorded by several different artists. All six Ain't Misbehavin' recordings of 1929 were successes in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) rankings for that year:

Waller re-recorded the song with vocals for the 1943 movie Stormy Weather. Waller's recording received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award during 1984, during 2001, it was one of 365 Songs of the Century selected by the RIAA, and it was one of fifty recordings selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress during 2004. Ain't Misbehavin' has been recorded by many other performers over the years, including Anita O'Day, Sarah Vaughan (for "Sarah Vaughan in Hi-Fi"; 1950), Bing Crosby (for "Songs I Wish I Had Sung the First Time Around"), Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald, Django Reinhardt, Harry James, Miles Davis, Kay Starr, Frankie Laine, Art Tatum, Floyd Pepper, Sonny Stitt, Sam Cooke, Johnnie Ray, Sidney Bechet, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Elkie Brooks, Eyran Katsenelenbogen, Willie Nelson, Kermit Ruffins, Leon Redbone, Freddie White, Dave Brubeck, Johnny Hartman, Jerome Flynn and Robson Green (Mini tv series UK, 1997), and Bill Haley & His Comets (who recorded a rock and roll version during 1957). Johnnie Ray's version scored number 17 in the UK Singles Chart during May 1956.[4] In 1960, Tommy Bruce and the Bruisers had a number 3 hit in the UK Singles Chart with their cover version of the song.[5]. During 1976, Leon Redbone performed the song on Saturday Night Live. It served as the title song of the successful 1978 musical Ain't Misbehavin'. Country music artist Hank Williams, Jr. recorded a version for his 1985 studio album Five-O. Released as a single, the song maximized at #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart and earned Williams a Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.

Movie renditions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, Jeremy. "Jazz Standards Song and Instrumentals (Ain't Misbehavin')". Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  2. ^ Victor Records (September 1929), Ain't Misbehavin' (Razaf - Waller - Brooks): Leo Reisman And His Orchestra, Victor #22047-B.
  3. ^ OKeh Records (August 1929), Ain't Misbehavin' (Razaf - Waller - Brooks): Louis Armstrong And His Orchestra, OKeh #8714(A).
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 451. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 83. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved June 14, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved June 14, 2017. 
  8. ^ Paymer, Marvin E.; Post, Don E. (1999). Sentimental Journey: Intimate Portraits of America's Great Popular Songs, 1920-1945. Noble House Publishers. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-881907-09-1.