Previous Vocal Group Record of the Week
#588 (Week of 10/25/08 - 10/31/08)


"Open The Door"/"Big Leg Mama"
by Vann Walls And The Rockets
on Atlantic 988
released in 1953

"Don't You Cry"
by Joe Turner With Van "Piano Man" Walls
And His Orchestra
on Atlantic 970
released in 1952

[Above image provided by Pete Grendysa.]

Above: 1987 photo of Harry Van Walls, born Harry Eugene Vann (1918-1999).

Per Pete Grendysa The Atlantic files give this personnel for The Rockets: Haywood "Little Sonny" Warner, W. Byrd, G. Byrd, ?. Hunter, and ?. Williams. Little Sonny, of course, went on to be a big star ("There Is Something On Your Mind").

Above: Vann Walls and His Famous Rhythm Notes in 1949 at the Club Trocaveria. (L-R) Vann Walls (piano), Phelton Simmons (bass), James Morgan (trumpet), Lee Booker (tenor saxophone), Bill Graham (drums).

Per Phelton Simmons: "At the Trocaveria, shows went six nights a week in the late 1940's. We played nice smooth music with a Duke or Count feel. Vann Walls was a happy supportive person who arranged most of the music, because the out-ot-town floor show groups rarely brought written music with them."

Newspaper Clipping (1953):
CURRENT AT RHUMBOOGIE, 626 St. Clair Ave., Columbus, is Van Walls trio, one of the better musical aggregations in Ohio's capital city. Management of club says that signing of trio represents another step in program to bring pleasing entertainment to Rhumboogie patrons. Pictured from left are Reginald Morgan, saxophone; Phelton Simmons, bass; Walls, piano.

Above: Label images for Atlantic 988 and Atlantic 970 recorded on 12/30/52 and 1/20/52 respectively.

Per the website, personnel on Atlantic 970 are Taft Jordan (trumpet), Budd Johnson (alto saxophone), Freddie Mitchell (tenor saxophone), Arleem Kareem (baritone saxophone), Harry Van Walls (piano), Rector Bailey (guitar), Leonard Gaskin (bass), Connie Kay (drums), and Joe Turner (vocal).

On the Atlantic label, Van Walls had releases as "Harry Van Walls And His After Hours Session Boys (1950), backing Joe Turner as "Van 'Piano Man' Walls" (1951-56), as "Harry Van Walls And His Orchestra" (1952), and as Vann Walls And The Rockets (1953). He was also session pianist for many of the other artists on Atlantic. The Rockets recorded five songs, all on 12-30-52, but only the one record resulted.

Cash Box Review (April 18, 1953):
BIG LEG MAMA (81) Here's a potent hunk of wax, which with exposure can break thru. The Rockets, a powerful new vocal group, sing this melodic opus with spirit and a solid beat, helped much by Van Walls on piano. It's a strong side that looks headed for the coins.
OPEN THE DOOR (78) A slow-tempo blues, with a lot of comic kicks, is handled warmly by the group, sparked by a good lead, who both sings and talks the lyrics. Van Walls contributes his usual listenable piano stylings. Final gimmick adds to the disc. Another good side.

Listen to this week's selections spotlighting Vann Walls: [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]


       Open The Door - The Rockets - Atlantic 988 - 1953
       Big Leg Mama - The Rockets - Atlantic 988 - 1953
       Don't You Cry - Joe Turner - Atlantic 970 - 1952
       ALL THREE SONGS played in sequence

  B. Download RealAudio...
       Open The Door - The Rockets - Atlantic 988 - 1953
       Big Leg Mama - The Rockets - Atlantic 988 - 1953
       Don't You Cry - Joe Turner - Atlantic 970 - 1952
  C. Stream/Download Media Player...
       Open The Door - The Rockets - Atlantic 988 - 1953
       Big Leg Mama - The Rockets - Atlantic 988 - 1953
       Don't You Cry - Joe Turner - Atlantic 970 - 1952

    [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]


This site is non-commercial. All information displayed is provided to further the general public's knowledge of RnB vocal group harmony.