Read the June 2005 issue of the Walnut Hill Gazette. Click here to read the current issue.
Walnut Hill Productions Hot Links For Theatre Organ Lovers The Mighty MidiTzer Project What's New At Walnut Hill? The Walnut Hill Organ The Walnut Hill House Organist The Walnut Hill General Store The Walnut Hill Recording Studio The Walnut Hill Organ Club
The Walnut Hill Mighty WurliTzer Walnut Hill Productions Rummage through the Walnut Hill Archives Featured Artists at Walnut Hill 50th Annual ATOS Convention Walnut Hill Website Credits Frequently Asked Questions - F.A.Q. Featured Organ of the Month The Walnut Hill Mighty WurliTzer

Go back to The Walnut Hill General Store main page. Go back to the May, 2005 page. Go to the Walnut Hill Graphical Website Map Go forward to the July, 2005 page. Go forward to the Walnut Hil Website Credits page.

Grandma's olde pump organ. Click here to return to the main Archives page.

Volume Two - Issue Six

Contributing Editors

The Control Room - Richard Mogridge - Webmaster
Console Up! - Tom Hoehn, Lead Editor
The Skandia WurliTzer - Per Olof Schultz, Associate Editor
MidiTzer Boot Camp - Russ Ashworth, Associate Editor
Mighty Hauptwerk - Jim Reid, Associate Editor
Desktop Goodies - Fred Willis
NYTOS Field Reporter - Eugene Hayek

Office of Operations

Walnut Hill Productions
1233 Sims Street
Ridgecrest, California 93555
Phone - 1-727-230-2610
10AM to 6PM PDT
Email -

Click here to see Chaz Bender's hand-picked selection of pre-owned Vintage Theatre Organs for sale at his new website!
Click here to go to Chaz Bender's Home Page.
Click here to go to Chaz Bender's Glory Bound Sound Home Page.


50th Annual ATOS Convention

Click here to visit the official ATOS 50th Annual Convention website.

Be sure to attend the ATOS 50th Annual Convention to be held in Pasadena, California. There will be fourteen artists playing twelve magnificent TPO's, seminars on TPO registration and performence, a symphony concert with fireworks on the 4th at the Hollywood Bowl, and a concert at the home of John Ledwon.

There will also be demo rooms at the Pasadena Hilton for Allen and Walker Digital Theatre Organs, and a room for the Mighty MidiTzer.

This a major event in the history of the King of Instruments, and is not to be missed!

50th Annual ATOS Convention Roll Call
Attendees from Yahoo! TPO Newsgroups

Click here to see the entire list of news groups at Yahoo! dedicated to the King of Instruments.

There will be many members of the TPO newgroups on Yahoo! going to this once in a lifetime history making event. Many of them will be sporting their new MidiTzer t-shirts, golf shirts, or baseball caps.

The Mighty MidiTzer, a Virtual WurliTzer Style 216 Theatre Pipe Organ for your Windows PC. Created by Jim Henry, it is played by over 2,500 people world wide!

We hope to assemble the First Annual MidiTzer Convention in the MidiTzer Room at the Pasadena Hilton during this huge gathering of Theatre Pipe Organ enthusiasts. You could say this will be the "Coming Out Party" for the Mighty MidiTzer, The Little VTPO That Could.

We will be playing the theatre organ virtually every day!

    Walnut Hill VTPO

  1. Richard Mogridge - Group Owner
  2. Ken Fedorick
  3. Jim Reid
  4. Jim Dunbar
  5. Per Schultz
  6. Tom Hoehn

    Rialto WurliTzer 216

  1. Russ Ashworth - Group Owner

    Theatre Organ SoundFonts

  1. Jim Henry - Group Moderator
  2. Joe Barron
  3. Sue Loomis
  4. Michael Schnell

    Allen Organ Owners

  1. Ronald Carter
  2. Don Story
  3. Jim Clinch
  4. Richard Stephenson

    Bone Doc's Yahoo! Mail

  1. Bucky Reddish
  2. Terry Lloyd
  3. Per Schultz

    Bone Doc's Theatreorgans-L Mail

  1. David Johnston (Melbourne Australia)
  2. Cory Edelman

Bob Acker, Chairman of the
2005 ATOS Electronic Theatre Organ Competition
Announces This Years's Winners!

<I>Bob Acker, Chairman - 2005 Electronic Theatre Organ Competition

We are pleased to announce the winners in the 2005 ATOS Electronic Theatre Organ Competition. Our winners will be recognized at the 2005 ATOS Annual Convention in Pasadena at the awards reception and each will receive ATOS certificates recognizing this accomplishment.

  • 1st Place - Kevin Cartwright - Atlanta, GA
  • 2nd Place - Bill Beningfield - Lawrence, KS
  • 3rd Place - Patrick Lane - Palm Springs, CA

We also greatly appreciate the efforts of our judges this year, who were Kevin King, Lew Williams, and Brett Valliant. Not only did they provide scoring for the Competition, they also provided helpful and constructive comments to each entrant. Thank you judges!

Bob Acker
Chairman - 2005 ATOS Electronic Theatre Organ Competition



Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 5,243 visitors to our site this year.

Three days to go and counting before the Convention!

Hauptwerk 2 Faces Delays To Market

Click here to visit the Hauptwerk official website by Martin Dyde.
Saint Mary's Cathedral Organ loaded into Hauptwerk.

We cover all kinds of virtual organs here at Walnut Hill. One of these is a program for PC's that uses real organ samples for generating sound called Hauptwerk. This program has been around longer than the Mighty MidiTzer and is under heavy development.

Click here to learn more about the 2/8 Mighty WurliTzer at the Virginia Theatre.
The console of the Virginia Theatre 2/8 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

Currently, Hauptwerk is in Version 1 but a Version 2 is right around the bend.The significence of this version is that a new organ will be available. Up to now, Hauptwerk has focused on Classical Pipe Organs. However, with this release comes the Virginia Theatre's 2/8 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ sample set from Milan Digial Audio.

We will be covering the details of the Hauptwerk 2 release in great detail in the days ahead, courtisy of our Hauptwerk field reprter, Jim Reid.

Jim Reid, fellow Walnut Hill Wall of Famer and Featured Artist, had this to say at Walnut Hill VTPO on June 25th:

Martin Dyde has just released a huge amount of info about the current Hauptwerk 2 software release status. In short, there is a delay now while legal mumbo-jumbo is worked out, perhaps licensing issues resolved. Unfortunately, Martin has no way of estimating the time this will take.

Some of these issues are discussed at the new Status Update web page Martin just put up today.

He includes a general discussion of the PC requirements which will be needed. Note that these are only guidlines, as he does not know at present how much "optimization" he will be allowed to accomplish until after all the "legal" issues are settled.

These delays in Martin's release of his fabulous product will cause similar delays in another, being Brett Milan's Virginia Theatre 2/8 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ sample set.

Jim Reid

Regarding this delay in the release of Hauptwerk 2, Jim Henry, creator of the Mighty MidiTzer, had this to add at Walnut Hill VTPO on June 27th:

Reading between the lines of Martin's report, my guess is that he has decided to apply for a patent.

It is a matter of Martin deciding there is commercial potential in Hauptwerk and shifting to the more involved task of releasing Hauptwerk as a commercial product.

Jim Henry

Both men have valid points. At Walnut Hill, we are heavily involved in the construction and operation of personal computers. We get to watch software being developed for many uses, music being only one of these. As is the case with any sophisticated code set that includes third party technology, there are may things to iron out.

Not only are there legal arguments, there are also technical arguments. The legal ones get settled by bankers and lawyers, as it should be, because that is their profession. Due course of law takes time. Meanwhile, the techs must debug line after line of code unless they want to take up permanent residency at the help desk answering the phone or whacking out email.

We see it totally from an engineer's point of view: arguments are numbers and they all have solutions.

When Hauptwerk 2 is finally released, it will be a grand product that will be worth every cent one pays for it. Hauptwerk 2 will revolutionalize the way we make music on PC's in the form of a virtual pipe organ in a similar fashion to the way the Mighty MidiTzer did. Stay Tuned...


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 5,170 visitors to our site this year.

Classic Organ Works and MidiTzer
Team Up at 50th Annual ATOS Convention

Canadian owned and operated, Classic Organ Works is a division of Artisan Classic Organ Inc. Artisan Classic Organ Inc. is a registered Canadian company with no financial or other connection to any other company bearing the same or similar names. It was created in 1990 by the merger of Artisan Organ Ltd. and The Classic Organ Company Ltd.

A group of MidiTzer users will be exhibiting Classic keyboards and pedalboards at the 50th Annual ATOS Convention in Pasadena, California, June 30th to July 6th 2005.

MidiTzer is a software package created by Jim Henry that allows one to virually recreate a Wurlitzer Style 216 Theatre Pipe Organ with a WinTel PC and MIDI keyboards.

Click here to visit Classic Organ Works and learn more about the equipment to be used at the 50th Annual ATOS Convention.

Volunteers will be available on-hand to discuss how to setup a virtual theatre organ. The exhibit will feature a 3 manual CMK stack, a Classic MIDI Pedalboard with three shoes, a new release of the MidiTzer software, a PC equipped with multiple sound cards, and a sound system to match.

Art Critchley, our resident theatre organ enthusiast, will also be roaming around the convention. Be sure to ask him about the restoration project he has on the go! Art will also be able to answer any questions you might have about our control systems and MIDI products.


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 5,135 visitors to our site this year.

There is one week to go before the 50th Annual ATOS Convention gets underway in sunny Pasadena, California. Jim Henry and Jim Reid have been watching the weather closely and it looks like we will have great weather for the week we are there, with highs in the upper 80's and lows in the upper 50's.

Walnut Hill Organ Club Now Online!

Welcome to the Walnut Hill Organ Club. Click here to enter our site.

The new website for the Walnut Hill Organ Club is now online. This site is under construction, with most of the building to take place after the Convention is over.

This new club for Theatre Pipe Organ enthusiasts will be dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Mighty MidiTzer Virtual Theatre Pipe Organ by Jim Henry.

New TPO Yahoo! News Groups

Click here to see a complete listing of all Yahoo! TPO related news groups here at Walnut Hill.

There are now 28 news groups featured on our Links To Yahoo! TPO Groups page. The newest four to be added are:

We ask that you please join these fledgeling groups and give them your input.


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 5,072 visitors to our site this year.

Clint Savage is inducted into
the Walnut Hill Wall of Fame!

Click here to visit Clint Savage's Wall of Fame page.
Clint Savage at the console of his Mighty Allen GW-319 Digital Theatre Organ.

Clint Savage, one of the original members of the Walnut Hill VTPO group on Yahoo!, is our twelfth inductee to the Walnut Hill Wall of Fame. His new page brings the total page count at our site to 96! Click here to visit his Wall of Fame page.

Clint is our in house MIDI file editing guru, using his Mighty Allen GW-318 Digital Theatre Organ to connect to and play the Mighty MidiTzer. Check his page often as content is added in the days ahead. We are proud to feature Clint at Walnut Hill on the Wall of Fame, the Featured Artists section, and the Free Windows Desktop Goodies section.


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 5,030 visitors to our site this year.

Convention Program Guide Now Online

The countdown to the 2005 ATOS Annual Convention has begun, with ten days left before this history making event takes place. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Program Guide for the 2005 ATOS Annual Convention is now online.

In it, you can find out what will be taking place in great detail, and there are maps to guide the way quickly from one event to another during the Convention.

Download your copy now!


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,974 visitors to our site this year.

We have added more pictures to the WurliTzer Style 216 page in the MidiTzer Project section.



Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,951 visitors to our site this year.

Fred Willis' Wall of Fame Page Updated!

Click here to visit our feature on Fred Willis, fellow member of Yahoo!'s VTPO and TOSF news groups, and the Walnut Hill Wall of Fame along with a contribution to the Desktop Wallpaper section.
Fred Willis, founding sponser of
the Walnut Hill Productions Website.

We have added more pictures of Fred Willis and his Mighty MidiTzer to his Wall of Fame Page. We are proud to feature his setup at Walnut Hill, and must say it is one of the most elaborate ones we have seen yet, with three computers dedicated to the Little VTPO That Could!



Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,910 visitors to our site this year.

I want to thank this year's funding sponsors for making it possible to attend the 50th Annual ATOS Convention:

  • Fred Willis - $1,000.00
  • Conchita Mogridge - $500.00
  • Tom Hoehn - $360.00 (Room share at the Pasadena Hilton)
  • Abe Mogridge - $100.00

Their assistance was totally unsolicited, and we are grateful beyond words.

We have added some pictures to the WurliTzer Style 216 page in the MidiTzer Project section.



Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,851 visitors to our site this year.

We have made several additions to the site over the past week, including adding information and photo's to the November 2004 Featured Organ of the Month page, some detailed insight into the Little TPO That Could on the Style 216 WurliTzer page, and many little tweaks and fixes all over the site to make it the best it can be. Prowl around our 95 pages of TPO goodness to see the changes taking place.



Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,826 visitors to our site this year.

The Bone Doctor Goes West

Click here to download a 3000 x 1818 JPG image of the Bone Doctor on his trusty 21-speed with organ in tow to California! Artwork by Fred Willis..
The Bone Doctor on his trusty 21-speed with organ
in tow, headed for California!
Artwork by Fred Willis.

We caught up with the webmaster today and here is what he had to say...

Howdey, Boys 'n' Girls. It is official. The Bone Doctor is a comin' to Californ-i-a fer that thar half-century anniversary shindig y'all is a throwin' fer them big girlies with ye multicolored smiles, y'all!

I git so excited 'bout those TPO's, land o' goshin', I jes' cain't talk straight.

{The Anchorman takes the mic...}

Yes, folks. The Bone Doctor will be at the convention. Flying into Burbank, he will arrive in the afternoon on the 30th of June and stay until noonish on the 7th of July. Tom Hoehn and the Doc will be sharing a room at the Hilton in downtown Pasadena, right in the middle of the action.

You will be able to find him at the MidiTzer Room, the Walker and Allen displays, and generally milling about with his thick gray hair flying, getting as close to those organs as he can. He is really looking forward to meeting all the friends he has made in the MidiTzer community and shaking the creator's hand.

{The Bone Doctor grabs the mic from the Anchorman...}

Yup... This is gonna be fun. See you in Sunny California!

The Circle Of Friends At Clinch Mountain

Click here to find out more about the legendary Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff and his family.

Ron Collins and his Circle of Friends will perform in the Clinch Mountain Amphitheatre on Friday at 5:00 p.m., prior to the Evening in Mayberry show. They will also play on Saturday.

John Hitch, his country music museum, and his-and-Ruby's Mayberry Country Music radio show -- a kissin' cousin to our Friday Night headline show -- were recently featured on Knoxville Channel 10's (WBIR-TV) Live at Five show.

Ron plays music wherever he goes. Old-time gospel and bluegrass are his joy and passion. He sings from the heart, and his love of Father God is obvious in his music.

Wherever Ron plays, he gathers people together for an impromptu "Circle of Friends." Whether it's a group of amateurs, or Ron's accompanying professional musicians, the audience is sure to be entertained. This group of fine musicians features the Bone Doctor's eldest brother, Ed Mogridge.

Click here to read the latest news about the Circle of Friends. Ed is on the far left in this picture, his hands resting on his guitar's machine head.
The Circle of Friends, featuring the Bone Doc's brother, Ed Mogridge.

Pictured above from left to right is Ed Mogridge (banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, vocals), Bernie Wade (fiddle, keyboard), Brady Wilson (seated; harmonica, guitar), Ron Collins (vocals, guitar, bass), and Scott Hinds (vocals, guitar, bass).

Ron Collins, founder of the group, has deep roots in the Clinch Valley area. The Circle of Friends will be performing during the 77th Annual Reunion for the family of the legendary Grand Ole Opry star, Roy Acuff, to be held at the Summerfest at Clinch Mountain, Tennessee on June 25th, 2005.

Click here to read the latest news about the Circle of Friends. Ed is on the far right in this picture, playing his banjo.

In the photo above, Ron Collins and The Circle of Friends are on stage at the Back Hills Cafe in Maryville, Tennessee. This venue was recently closed due to the widening of a main street through the city. Proir to the closure of this great gathering place for bluegrass musicians and fans, it was a regular stop for the band. The Bone Doctor (not pictured) attended some of these weekend shows, sitting in on mandolin and vocals.


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,800 visitors to our site this year.

A Tribute To
Billy Nalle, Theatre Organist

By Stephen Brittain

This is the album cover for one of Billy Nalle's records, entitled Big! Bold and Billy.


Now that the shock of Billy Nalle's sudden death and the ensuing things that have to be done and phone calls that have to be made is behind me. I thought I would take the opportunity to Thank so many of the wonderful folks in the "theatre organ cyber world" that made touching posts and those that sent personal notes back to me at my email address. It was nice to hear from people I've met years ago and to meet some new friends whose names are synonymous with the theatre organ world.

The persons here assigned to handle Billy's wishes and execute the details of his estate are already making efforts to carry out those wishes. I do understand that there are provision for moving some of the historic and archival materials to "appropriate" hands for safekeeping for generations to come. That's good news.

Many of the postings mentioned the 77 Honda - I'm happy to report that he still had that car. I know he even wrote to Honda to ask if they wanted to use it in some commercial since it's in mint condition with its Mr. Pip license plate on the front. When Billy moved into his apartment on the Caloosa River (Caloosahatchee to us locals) he had the apartment maintenance people make the sign for his parking place read, "Mr. Pip" instead of Nalle and it was weeks before the other residents of the high rise figured out that Mr. Pip was a car and not their new resident.

I met Billy after my friend and ATOS member back into the 1960's, Walter Draughon of Fort Myers gave me some Billy Nalle records for Christmas in 1980. Letters began to flow back and forth to Wichita and soon Walter and I took a trip to Century II to see Billy and hear the organ. I was in the audience for the recording of WTO's Billy LIVE album. The next day we returned to Century II Center to play the organ and I have a photograph of Billy standing behind me as I play. A local musician had transcribed, to printed music, a song entitled Summer Rain that Billy had recorded on a Hammond here sometime in the 40's. Billy did not know that this had been done - so I got to be the guy that played this song - for him - on the Paramount Wurlitzer while he stands behind me watching. I have a photo of that moment when Billy realized that I was playing the song he had written (and never placed on paper) so many years ago. It's a treasured snapshot and was a magic time for me.

On that same visit to Wichita - I noticed a Gemshorn pipe that Billy had displayed on a wall. I don't recall where it came from, but when I returned home, I took an old rank of stopped flutes, cleaned and polished and shellacked a "B" for Brittain (my name) and "D" for Draughon and an "A" for Nalle (since there is NO "N" note on any of my instruments). Billy displayed this on his wall for many years both in Kansas and Florida. I'm happy to report that soon the "A" pipe will be returned to me to be placed on my wall next to the other two - my two dear friends having returned home.

During visits to Fort Myers, I learned that Billy attended Julliard on some sort of accelerated program. It was war time when he finished high school here in Fort Myers and so he 'fast tracked' Julliard in some 3 years or so. I recall him telling me about playing overseas while in the service. In once instance, the piano at some USO show was so badly out of tune that they could not tune in band instruments to match it. No problem - Billy transposed all the material right there on the spot and of course, never missed a note. In one instance there was no piano so someone took an accordion - yes an accordion - and placed it on a person stood behind it and pushed all pulled the bellows end - while Billy played the keyboard end. I would have liked to been there for that !

In spite of his amazing talent Billy never seemed to realize that OTHERS knew of his gift. When in the early 1990's he was asked to return to Fort Myers and play the organ in a Convention Center here - he was simply bowled over that anyone here at "home" knew who he was and would want to see him or hear him play. This February concert sold out and a Grande reunion with friends from the 30's and 40's took place.

In 1997 my friend Walter Draughon, who had built his home in 1969 around a 3/15 Wurlitzer, presented this home to me as a gift. He has since passed away in Aug 2000. Billy occasionally would come to dinner here and I never knew what the topic of conversation would be. Some times it was musical sometimes is was just plain crazy. After dinner I could usually coax him to the Steinway to play something while I had dishes to do - always thought it was funny that I had "live" background music by Billy Nalle while I cleaned the kitchen. During one of these dinners my parents attended as well. Billy and my mother were having a conversation and suddenly I realized they were talking about toilet paper. I have no earthly idea how they ended up on this subject by the conversation ended with Billy saying (and I quote) "....well, Quilted Northern is the only civilized toilet paper on the market...". That sort of sums it all up.

Sorry this got so long winded - if you ever had a conversation with Billy you'll know that brevity was not one of his strong suits. Billy would often sign his letters in the following manner.

Blessing and sass - well tremulated.

Stephen Brittain

More Fans Of Billy Nalle...

This was posted yesterday at mailing list by Richard Stephenson

I am a big fan of Billy's. He is certainly up there with George Wright, Buddy Cole, John Seng, etc. Pity he did not do more recordings. The WTO CD's have been in the pipeline for a long time.

Good to know that Dan Bellomy still carries on the the jazz tradition.

All the best

Richard Stephenson

This was posted yesterday at mailing list by Terry Charles

Such a man was he - Billy Nalle.

Dan Bellomy said "He was a wonderful man, a monster musician, a tender and gentle soul."

A great crescendo of DITTO's on that!! My loss was in losing contact the last several years, but to remember Billy is to remember one of the most truly amazing musicans ever to ride the bench.

We became friends about 1960 - a friend of mine was in the service with Billy and put us in touch. Later, Billy made it possible for me to meet up with Dan Papp one memorable (FOR SURE!) morning at the NYC Paramount and that's another wonderful story.

I think Billy played on the Kirk Organ Series three seasons - staying in my home each time. The stories he could relate !~! Would that I could recall even half of them now!

I wrote Dan Bellomy once, that we have a recording of Billy's Kirk Concerts and on one of them is a virtually (to me) unbelievable performance of Hello Dolly - BUT the unbelievable part is that he played his arrangement as if a Victrola was wound up and began slowing down with the key changes which would naturally occur as the rpm's dropped!

In practice, we decided to "manufacture" a larger than normal "key" out of wood. In concert, as he began, I walked on stage and pretended to wind up the organ! Billy brought down the house.

Once he sent me a tape recorded copy of the master (I assume) of his NYC Paramount WurliTzer recording and later a video of a concert in Wichita. It was a privilege to know him...


This was posted today at mailing list by Scott May:

What a profound display of love we have seen for the great Billy Nalle. Thank You all for sharing. These letters have given an insight into the man that makes listening to his music even sweeter. Scott Smith's recent letter put a tear in my eye, as did Steve Brittain's.



This was posted today at mailing list by D. McAlpin:


If you could resurrect that interview and make it available, lots of us Billy Nalle fans would really appreciate it! I cannot adequately express how warm and generous Billy was to me over the many years of our acquaintance. As he would always say, "As one Southern Chile to another . . . ."

D. McAlpin


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,714 visitors to our site this year.

John Tay's MidiTzer
SoundFont Nears Completion!

Click here to visit John Tay at the Big Duece.

As you know from an earlier post, John Tay has created a new set of digital samples for the Mighty Miditzer. The instrument sampled is the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ at the Paramount Theatre in Middletown New York.

These files have been years in the making.

Listen to the Demo: Click Here. File size is 1.1MB, playing time is 1:31, bit reate is 96KB/sec.

Go to John Tay's Website: Click Here.

These will be available for general release to the public with the Mighty Miditzer v0.4 in early July.

Stay tuned...

Legendary Theatre Pipe Organist
Billy Nalle Promoted To Glory

Today is a sad day at Walnut Hill.

The promotion to glory for Billy Nalle is joyous in that he gets to play the big TPO in the sky.

However, there will be no more oppertunity for the young ones to be near the master of the pipes here on earth.

Billy Nalle influenced me in so many ways, even though I never got to meet him. His album, Spectacular Theatre Organ was the first TPO CD I ever bought. It moved me. I wanted to learn how to play an organ like that! I listen to that record many times per year, as I have since getting it back in '89.

There will never be another artist quite like Billy. His playing is simply astounding. Even in his passing, we can learn much from Billy Nalle, one of the true giants of the TPO world. God Speed, Billy.

Billy Nalle of Fort Myers, Florida, died on June 7, 2005. He was born in Fort Myers April 24, 1921, and is survived by one sister, Maria Bogia, of Massies Mill, Virginia.

Billy graduated from Fort Myers High School in 1939 with the distinction of having received the American Legion School Honor Award. From 1933 to 1939 he was pianist of the Al Linquist Jazz Orchestra of Fort Myers.

Following his audition at the Julliard School of Music, New York, he received a full scholarship for the study of piano and organ. His principle teachers were the organ and piano virtuoso: Gaston Dethier, and the celebrated jazz pianist Teddy Wilson.

Billy served in the U.S. Navy, 1943 to 1946, and during his last year of service was assigned to the U.S.N. Entertainment Unit, where he and Bob Fosse toured the Pacific Ocean military bases. During 1947 and 1948 he did postgraduate studies at The Julliard School, and then began a 26 year career of music in New York City for more than 200 major network television shows on CBS, NBC, and ABC.

In 1975 Billy accepted the position of Artist-in-Residence at the Century II Center, Wichita, Kansas, where the world famous New York Paramount Theatre organ had been installed. For eleven years he played concerts in the Wichita Pops Series, made numerous recordings, and concertized nationally.

He received international acclaim in 1993 when the American Theatre Organ Society voted him into the Theatre Organists Hall of Fame. In 1995, Nalle ended a fulltime career and returned to Fort Myers, Florida, where he lived until his death.

Billy was interned in the Nalle Family plot at the Fort Myers Cemetery.

Below are just a few of the laments of those who knew him...

This was posted today at mailing list by Stephen Brittain:


It is with great sadness that I report that Theatre Pipe Organist Billy Nalle passed away this weekend here in his home town of Fort Myers. I think he was born in 1925 or 1923 (but I'm not really sure.)

Billy's career is too large to attempt to list it all here. I met him via my friend Walter Draughon in about 1983 and had the opportunity to see and play the New York Paramount Wurlitzer in its new home in Whicata.

Billy retired to Fort Myers and lived just up the street from me. I often saw his lime green pants at the grocery store and found his Honda Civic 1977 parked in the parking lot.

Those of you that are PLUGGED in via email to other organists may pass this info along as you see fit.

-Stephen Brittain

This was posted today at mailing list by Dan Bellomy:

The last of my theatre organ mentors ---- a true and fine gentleman --- a wonderful and loyal friend ---- I shall miss his gentle way and his kindness ---- I shall miss him most as my friend and ever present musical inspiration.

Sometime around 1977 or so, I was playing a concert for the local Hammond Organ dealer in Wichita. I was also writing feature material and record reviews for a couple of publications. That organ dealer gave me a copy of his friends new album, There Is Only One Billy Nalle. I had of course heard of Billy but had never really heard him play at that time.

At the end of that trip, I sat down at home and listened to the gift. I had never in my life heard such sound ---- such passion ---- such inventive approaches ---- such intensitivity ---- such musicality ---- and so much love. I made two phone calls that night. I called my publisher and asked to write my very first unsolicited review. I also made a call to find Billy's phone number. Failing the second effort, I began my writing. The review was published less than a month later.

Less than a week after the magazine had arrived for most subscribers, my own telephone rang one evening. The unknown voice asked if it was Dan Bellomy to whom he was speaking. He then introduced himself. Billy and I had our first of many LONG telephone chats. A friend was made ---- a friend that lasted through thick and thin.

On a later visit to Wichita for Hammond, Billy and I were in a restaurant late in the evening having one of those wonderfully playful "shop talks." We smilingly argued back and forth as to whether a particular harmonic progression would work in a certain tune. He said "yes" and I said "no". Hmmmmm. He abruptly said, "Chile, let's go." We got in that 1977 Honda and drove over to Century II ---- went in ---- pulled out the console ---- he sat down, and in about 20 seconds, proved me so VERY wrong! :) :) It was one of those moments that one never forgets ---- ever.

He was a wonderful man, a monster musician, a tender and gentle soul.

I shall miss him intensely.

-Dan Bellomy

This was posted today at mailing list by Scott May:

I mourn the loss of a hero. One of the absolute masters. My condolences to those among this list who had the privilege to know him.



This was posted today at mailing list by Terry:

I had the distinct pleasure and honor of hosting him at our home in Illinois. He was a magnificent musician (Big Bold & Billy was one of the very first theatre organ albums that I purchased as a boy in high school!) and a true Southern Gentleman.

I shall miss his typed missals where he would take advantage of every square inch of paper - even to inserting the letter into his typewriter sideways so that he could type a few more thoughts along the margins!

He taught me the 'joy' of Myer's Rum and Schweppes Bitter Lemon - every time that I enjoy another of "Billy's Cocktails" he shall be toasted and honored!

Fort Lauderdale

This was posted today at mailing list by Bob Acker:

Like so many others, I too was saddened today to hear of the passing of Billy Nalle. This is indeed a loss to the theatre organ world and to lovers of well-played good music everywhere.

I have been advised that Wichita Theatre Organ is working on a series of CD's to be released soon of Billy's live performances as well as the original records which may also be re-released in CD format. The first CD is actually done and waiting on artwork for the booklet, and is his 1978 Concert Performance on the famous NY Paramount organ at Wichita. There will probably be at least four CD's released and maybe even a couple of more after all of the material is grouped and packaged for re-release.

Upon hearing the sad news of the morning, Mike Coup, President of WTO said, "This is a terrible disappointment as we had so hoped that he'd get to hear these new releases. These are a wonderful musical gift and we're anxious to get it out. In my mind, he was the greatest musician who just happened to play the organ since Jesse Crawford."

Sincerest condolences to his family and many friends,

-Bob Acker

This was posted today at mailing list by Bruce Gentry:

When a master of a craft passes on, it is equal to a library burning down. Billy's willingness to teach others needs to be followed so the younger generations can keep the art alive.

Country music may not be your cup of tea, but when someone like Billy dies, I think of a song. The title is Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes? by George Jones. It asks a critical question for everyone to ponder, regardless of the music or craft they love. Try to find it and listen to it.

Remembering so many departed masters,
--Bruce Gentry

This was posted today at mailing list by Bill:

I remember that song and the questions it asks about "who's going to fill their shoes?"

I also remember thinking the unasked question, "what are they going to fill them with?"


This was posted today at mailing list by Kim Crisler:

I had the honor of doing a telephone interview with Billy Nalle for a journalism project while I was a student freelancing for the Minnesota Daily (University of MN) paper. Though it did not get into print, we conversed about his years as an organist both in concert and on the airwaves.

He was a true Southern gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor. I'll never forget when he said to me during the course of the conversation, "If there's something I have said that is not clear, stop me in transit and throw a wet fish in my face (!)" In other words, don't hesitate to ask.

Somewhere in my massive (and messy) files, I still have that tape of the interview.

In addition to his versatility as a musician, Billy was an accomplished writer, having written articles for The Diapason and THEATRE ORGAN Journal from the 1960s to the 1980s.

I, too will miss him. Sleep well, Billy. You are safe in the arms of the Great Maestro!


This was posted today at mailing list by John Amy Ben Lauter:

I was saddened to read of Billy's passing today. Billy was in the exclusive company of George Wright, Buddy Cole and John Seng, topflight, seasoned professional studio musicians who happened to play the theatre organ occasionally.

This influential group expanded the scope and vocabulary of our instrument far beyond it's movie palace origins, and brought the music it could produce into the latter half of the 20th century.

Billy's fabulous harmonic sense made the most ordinary tune a new experience. I only had the privilege of hearing him in concert once, at the Seattle Paramount for the 1981 ATOS convention. I was introduced to him later that week and we had a most enjoyable conversation. I sensed immediately that Billy was a true Southern Gentleman.

Godspeed, Billy.


This was posted today at mailing list by Scott Smith:

Like other young musicians, I admired Billy Nalle from a distance for many years. My first organ teacher, a very progressive thinker in every way, urged me to buy the Concert Recording Wizard of Organ LP when I asked her who I should be listening to around 1970. My teenage ears heard something I did not fully understand at that time, but got my attention immediately! I continued to admire Billy, and heard him play live on the odd occasion at the Senate Theatre in Detroit, one of his favorite instruments. I collected his recordings and tried to decipher those often left-field chord progressions. As an aside, an old friend who does not appreciate jazz, once said, when listening to Billy play that he was "forever grabbing a fistful of wrong notes." Somehow I think Billy could even musically justify wrong notes!

In early 1977, upon hearing of my father's death from mutual friends, Billy wrote an unsolicited condolance letter to me, relating his own experience from having lost his mother at an early age, and how his father tried his best to be both father and mother to young Billy. We corresponded for several months (often on those crammed, typewritten notes) until he insisted I travel from Michigan to Wichita for his 1978 Memorial Day weekend concert. Hearing Billy and the Paramount Wurlitzer together for the first time was a mind-bending experience. I don't think he ever played better than he did that evening, with a concert focusing on the music of Gershwin and Ellington. His Southern gentlemanliness extended itself again, as it would many times in the coming years, as he invited me to the WTO after-concert party. After that, we wrote and called each other often. I visited Billy many times in his apartment when I was in Wichita, and marvelled that his tiny DE-ficiency apartment was much like his playing -- expertly crammed to the hilt without feeling crowded. There was even a mini-chapel set up in there, replete with religious icons and altar. The most memorable piece of furniture was the lime green sofa that was as hard as stone!

Being involved to some degree on the new WTO CD venture, I spoke to Billy more often on the phone in recent times. His mind was as sharp as ever, and indicated that his health was good, too. With little urging, he would regale some great stories about concerts or places he'd been with minute detail, including one about a dinner he had with Virgil Fox (at the latter's request), who was nervous (!!!) about playing at CII and wanted to pick Billy's mind, when the two lived close to each other in NYC.

We last spoke on the phone less than a month ago. He was a sharp and "sassy" as ever. A master conversationalist, he listened intently, hung on my every word, avoided unpleasantness, and was always apologetic for having "taken up" my time. As if I minded!

I will always be grateful for having known many of the "greats" in our field, but none greater than Billy Nalle. He always urged young players to be themselves. He was inexhaustible as a resource. Right to the end of his career, he was a developing musician, never casting anything exactly in stone. I'll always think of him as the best organ teacher I ever had who never gave me a lesson. In terms of the whole package, in fact, he was simply the best.

It's true, you know. There was only ONE.

Scott Smith


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,655 visitors to our site this year.

The MidiTzer Apparel Store
Opens For Business!

~ Russ Ashworth, Proprietor - Sponsored by The Cafe Press ~

Click here to order T-shirts, Hats, Coffee Mugs and Mouse Pads featuring the Mighty MidiTzer screenshot - MidiTzer: Playing The Rialto WurliTzer Virtually Every Day!


Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,620 visitors to our site this year.

We have added much new content to some of the pages at our site, including some information on the Sanfillopo WurliTzer featured on our November 2004 page, and a story about a famous Style 216 WurliTzer on our WurliTzer 216 page. Also, we have added some information about our favorite WurliTzer, the J. Tyson Forker Memorial Organ, on our very first feature page for June of 2004. Poke around the site to see the new stuff!



Greetings from the Bone Doctor. God bless all who come here.

I want to thank the 4,429 visitors to our site this year.

The Featured Organ For
The Month Of June, 2005 Is Up!

See Big Bertha, the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installe dat the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama!

The Featured Organ for the Month Of June, 2005 is now up in the Featured Organ of the Month section. For June, we are featuring the Alabama Theatre's 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.


John Tay Releases the Tibia SoundFont
For The Mighty MidiTzer!

Go to John Tay's MidiTzer SoundFont downloads page at!

John Tay, fellow Walnut Hill VTPO member and Theatre Organ SoundFonts member, has released the Tibia SoundFont for the Mighty MidiTzer.

This marks the first release of a SoundFont taken from real digital samples of a real WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ, specificly taylored for use with Jim Henry's Mighty MidiTzer!

Comments are welcome...

Clint Savage Is A Featured Artist!

Click here to visit Clint Savage's Featured Artist page and listen to his Mighty Allen George Wright Signature Series GW-319 Digital Theatre Organ.
Looking down at the keydesk of
Clint Savage's Mighty Allen George Wright Signature Series
GW-319 Digital Theatre Organ

Clint Savage, fellow Walnut Hill VTPO member and Theatre Organ SoundFonts member, has been inducted into the Featured Artists section at Walnut Hill. On his new page, you can listen to three songs he recorded on his Mighty Allen George Wright Signature Series GW-319 Digital Theatre Organ There is also a link to his other page featuring a nice wallpaper and some music from the legendary Walt Strony, who voiced this fantastic machine.


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