- Van "Piano Man" Walls
Infobox musical artist |
Name = Van "Piano Man" Walls
Birth_name = Harry Eugene Vann
Born = birth date|1918|8|24|df=y
Died = death date and age|1999|2|24|1918|8|24|df=y
Blues, Rhythm and Blues
Years_active = 1930s - 1990s
Atlantic Records Apollo Records Derby Records Columbia Records MGM Records.
Big Joe Turner Ruth Brown The Clovers LaVern Baker The Drifters Joe Morris
Van "Piano Man" Walls (born Harry Eugene Vann
24 August 1918, died 24 February 1999) was an American rhythm and bluespiano player.
Walls was born in
Middlesboro, Kentuckyand grew up in Charleston, West Virginia. His mother was a piano teacher. His stepfather was named Walls, so he took the name Vann Walls. He left home as a teenager and toured the South with carnivals, circuses, and variety caravans. He returned to Charleston in his mid twenties and played as a solo pianist in local clubs and on WCHS (AM)radio.
In the early forties he played in
Cal Greer's band, the formed his own band based in Columbus, Ohio.
From house band to headliner
In 1948 saxophonist
Frank "Floorshow" Culleyconvinced Walls to join the new Atlantic Recordslabel in New York as Atlantic's house band pianist starting in 1949. Notable songs featuring his work include:
*"Chains Of Love" (
Big Joe Turner)
5-10-15 Hours" ( Ruth Brown)
One Mint Julep" ( The Clovers)
*"Tomorrow Night" (
*"Any Time, Any Place, Anywhere" (
In 1950, Atlantic released "Tee Nah Nah" (#904) under his name, featuring a vocal by
Spider Sam. The b-sidewas "Ain't Gonna Scold You." Walls also recorded "Easter Parade" and "Air Mail Boogie" for Derby Records(#733), featuring Freddie Mitchell. "Chocolate Candy Blues" on Columbia Records#30220 also was released in 1950. From that time on Vann Walls was credited on all of Atlantic's early recordings by Joe Turner.
In 1954 he joined
The Nite Riders, where he remained for almost ten years, mainly in Montreal. They primarily recorded on the Apollo Recordslabel, though in 1957 they recorded a one-off for MGM Records.
During the early sixties they recorded for the Cherry, Chime, Smash, and Courtesy labels. After the Nite Riders broke up in the early sixties, Vann Walls remained in Montreal and formed his own group called Captain Vann & The Pirates.
Walls played a number of blues and jazz festivals in the United States and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. Pareles, Jon (May 25, 1990). [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1D61138F936A15756C0A966958260 Review/Blues; Making the Piano Jump and Wail.] "
New York Times"] In 1997 he was recognized by the Rhythm and Blues Foundationwith a Pioneer Award. Walls continued to record until his death in January 1999.
Michael Jerome Brownwrote and dedicated a song titled Cancer Ward Bluesfor Harry Vann Walls on his 2001 album Drive On (album).
* [http://home.earthlink.net/~v1tiger/culley.html Short Takes on R & B Pioneers] by JC Marion
* [http://www.myspace.com/vannwalls Vann Walls tribute site on MySpace]
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