Ferdinand “Fats” Washington was a pioneering blues and R&B songwriter best known for his collaborations with B. B. King and Lowell Fulson.
Washington wrote such standards as “Pledging My Love,” which hit the Billboard Singles chart four times through the ’50s and has been covered more than 150 times by such artists as Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison, Emmylou Harris, and Marvin Gaye, and “I’ll Be Home,” a Top 5 hit for Pat Boone in 1956, charting later for The Flamingos and The Platters and covered by a wide-ranging list of artists. He is recognized as one of the only songwriting collaborators of blues icon B. B. King, with whom he wrote the seminal hit “Get Off My Back Woman” as well as “No Good,” “You’re Losing Me,” “Don’t Waste My Time,” and “Waiting On You.” His prolific work with Lowell Fulson includes “Black Nights,” “Talkin’ Woman,” “Blues Around Midnight,” and “No More.” Other noteworthy blues songs in the catalog include “Dirty Work Going On,” recorded by Little Joe Blue, and the Willie Mae Thornton cut, “Don’t Do Me This Way.”
Having been a radio disc jockey and newspaper columnist in Louisiana in the late ’40s and ’50s, Washington began his songwriting career via a chance meeting and ensuing collaboration with veteran writer/musician, Don Robey, with whom he wrote “Pledging My Love.” His work with King and Fulson took him to such major music centers as Muscle Shoals, Shreveport, Los Angeles, and Dallas, where he later settled, bringing him into contact with other collaborators, including Stan Lewis, Larry Green, and Maxwell Davis.
Washington’s work has remained active thanks to more recent cover recordings by such artists as Johnny Winter and Steve Miller. Further, catalog songs have appeared in a long list of motion pictures, including ‘Back To The Future,’ ‘A Rage In Harlem,’ and ‘Open Road.’ More recently, another one of his collaborations with Fulson, “Shattered Dreams,” was used in an episode of CBS’s popular show, ‘The Talk,’ and covered by Cyndi Lauper on her ‘Memphis Blues’ album.