Top Songs

About Harry Van Wals

b. Harold Eugene Vann Walls, 24 August 1918, Millersboro, Kentucky, USA, d. 24 February 1999, Charleston, West Virginia, USA. Van Walls was raised in Charleston, West Virginia, by his music teacher mother, and learned to play piano at a very early age, accompanying the local church choir. His attention switched to blues and jazz in his teens with Jay McShann becoming a particularly potent influence. Soon he began playing dates locally, both with bands and as a solo pianist and vocalist. In 1949 Van Walls and his band travelled to New York to back tenor saxophonist Frank ‘Floorshow’ Culley at his debut session for the fledgling Atlantic Records label, and there he remained to provide the distinctive piano part to the famed Atlantic R&B Sound on the records of Sticks McGhee, Ruth Brown, Joe Morris, the Drifters, the Clovers and ‘Big’ Joe Turner. In 1954 Van Walls eased up on the session work to join a band, the Nite Riders, who had a solid career recording for Grand, Apollo (for whom they recorded the classic ‘Women And Cadillacs’), Teen/Sound and a host of other licensees. In 1963 Van Walls left the group to settle in Canada, but was rediscovered byWhiskey, Women And Song magazine in 1987 and was persuaded to record again.