He wanted to play drums, but he ended up choosing the piano.
In 1920, he went to Harlem.
"Fats" Waller was his major influence.
They became friends, and Fats let him sit next to him at the piano.
He joined a a road show with Gonzel White.He played in a four piece band and acted a little.
In 1930, he joined the Bennie Morton Band and stayed with it until Bennie Morton died.
He and the other band members still played together at clubs and they competed with Duke Ellington.
4 more men were added to the band and they started recording.