Ethel Caffie-Austin

Winston Walls

1942-2008, Ironton, OH

As the story goes, Winston Walls was born in a car near Ironton, OH, as his family was returning home to Charleston. Rightfully dubbed “The Boss of the B3,” Winston started out studying drums with the great Charleston musician Frank Thompson — who would later play with Winston for many years.

Winston got his first break when famed Hammond organist Bill Doggett’s drummer was a no-show for a performance in the late 1950’s at Charleston’s Municipal Auditorium. Later, learning from Doggett, he eventually made the switch to organ.

For four decades, Walls had his own group and played regionally, and was revered by musicians and fans alike. He also had a brief career as a motorcycle trick rider, a roller derby player, and a professional wrestler, fighting under the name “The Claw.”

He also backed artists including The Pointer Sisters, Dionne Warwick, Al Green, Charlie Pride, and Ike and Tina Turner. His sole solo release was 1993’s Boss of the B3 (Schoolkids Records), which recreated a “Battle of the Hammonds” with his old friend Brother Jack McDuff.

Winston spent the last years of his life between a home in Ft. Myers, Florida, and Charleston. He died in Florida on February 5, 2008.