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"Ain't Misbehavin'"
Song by Thomas Waller ("Fats" Waller)
A-side"Ain't Misbehavin'"
B-side"Sweet Savannah Sue"
ReleasedAugust 2, 1929 (1929-08-02)
Genreinstrumental stride, Trad jazz, swing,
Lengthapprox. 3 minutes
LabelVictor #22108

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

First performances[]

The song was first performed at the premiere of Connie's Hot Chocolates at Connie's Inn in Harlem as an opening number by Margaret Simms and Paul Bass, and repeated later in the musical by Russell Wooding's Hallelujah Singers. Connie's Hot Chocolates transferred to the Hudson Theatre on Broadway in June 1929, where it was renamed to Hot Chocolates and where Louis Armstrong took over as orchestra director. The script also required Armstrong to play Ain't Misbehavin' in a trumpet solo, and although this was initially slated to only 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.


In 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 hits in the ASCAP rankings for that year:

  • Leo Reisman and his orchestra (with vocals by Lew Conrad, #2)
  • Louis Armstrong (#7)
  • Bill Bojangles Robinson (with Irving Mills & his Hotsy Totsy Gang, #8)
  • Gene Austin (with Leonard Joy & his orchestra, #9)
  • Ruth Etting (#16)
  • Fats Waller (instrumental version, #17)

Waller re-recorded the song with vocals for the 1943 film Stormy Weather. Waller's recording received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1984, and it was one of fifty recordings selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004. In 2001, it was one of 365 Songs of the Century selected by the RIAA.

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 and Bill Haley & His Comets (who recorded a rock and roll version in 1957). Johnnie Ray's version reached number 17 in the UK Singles Chart in 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]. In 1976, Leon Redbone performed the song on Saturday Night Live. It served as the title song of the successful 1978 musical Ain't Misbehavin'.

Film appearances[]

  • 1943 Stormy Weather - performed by Fats Waller.[6]
  • 1944 Atlantic City - sung by Louis Armstrong.[7]
  • 1948 You Were Meant for Me
  • 1955 Gentlemen Marry Brunettes - sung and danced by Alan Young, Jane Russell, Jeanne Crain (dubbed by Anita Ellis) and Chorus.
  • 1975 Lucky Lady - Burt Reynolds sang the song on a ship in this comedy.[8]
  • 1979 Just You and Me, Kid

See also[]

  • List of 1920s jazz standards


  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.
Preceded by
"Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ol' Days)"
by The Judds
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

May 17, 1986
Succeeded by
"Tomb of the Unknown Love"
by Kenny Rogers
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

May 31, 1986

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