Van "Piano Man" Walls


Van "Piano Man" Walls

Infobox musical artist |
Name = Van "Piano Man" Walls


Img_capt =
Img_size =
Background =
Birth_name = Harry Eugene Vann
Alias =
Born = birth date|1918|8|24|df=y
Died = death date and age|1999|2|24|1918|8|24|df=y
Origin = Middlesboro, Kentucky
Instrument = Piano
Genre = Blues, Rhythm and Blues
Occupation =
Years_active = 1930s - 1990s
Label = Atlantic Records
Apollo Records
Derby Records
Columbia Records
MGM Records.
Associated_acts = Big Joe Turner
Ruth Brown
The Clovers
LaVern Baker
The Drifters
Joe Morris
URL =
Current_members =
Past_members =
Notable_instruments =

Van "Piano Man" Walls (born Harry Eugene Vann 24 August 1918, died 24 February 1999) was an American rhythm and blues piano player.

Early life

Walls was born in Middlesboro, Kentucky and 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" Culley convinced Walls to join the new Atlantic Records label 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" (LaVern Baker)
*"Any Time, Any Place, Anywhere" (Laurie Tate)

In 1950, Atlantic released "Tee Nah Nah" (#904) under his name, featuring a vocal by Spider Sam. The b-side was "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 Records label, 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.

Later career

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 Foundation with a Pioneer Award. Walls continued to record until his death in January 1999.

Other information

Canadian musician Michael Jerome Brown wrote and dedicated a song titled Cancer Ward Blues for Harry Vann Walls on his 2001 album Drive On (album).

References

External links

* [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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