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Billy Nalle Collection

Identifier: AOIAL-ATOC-RG0011
The collection consists of the papers of Billy Nalle from 1952-2005, and headshots of the organist during his career. The majority of the collection dates from 1960-1980. Included in the collection are his professional and personal correspondences, original arrangements of popular tunes, and organ specifications, reference layouts, and personal registrations of instruments on which he concertized. While this forms the majority of the collection, it also includes promotional materials for concerts and recordings, concert programs, and reviews of Nalle's concerts from 1963-1985. Also contained in the collection are several audio/visual recordings of concerts and ephemera relating to the concert venues and churches Nalle visited. The photographs span the entirety of Nalle's professional career, and include the organs and buildings of concert sites, his colleagues and students, and family members.


  • circa 1952-2005
  • Majority of material found in 1960-1980

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Any use of archival materials outside of the scope of education and/or research must be approved by the American Organ Institute Archives and Library staff and may be subject to copyright.


10.00 cubic feet

Administrative History:

With over 5000 television credits, dozens of recording projects, and many compositions in the popular music field, Billy Nalle was easily one of the most active theatre organists during the second half of the twentieth century.

Born on 29 April 1921 in Fort Myers, Florida, Nalle's affinity for music was apparent at an early age when, after attending a band concert at the age of three, he came home and played the melody and bass of the band's last selection on the family piano in the key he had heard it.  At age four he played his first public concert, a program of popular music on the grand piano in the Fort Myers Pleasure Pier.

During his high school years, he worked as a pianist in a local dance orchestra and was occasionally featured on the local radio station.  He also privately studied classical organ with Eddie Ford, organist at the Tampa Theatre.

In 1950 he matriculated at the Julliard School in New York studying organ with Gaston Dethier and piano with Teddy Wilson.  While there he began a fifteen year career in network television, appearing on shows such as: "Studio One"; "Hallmark Hall of Fame", "Kraft Theatre", and "I Remember Mama".

Nalle is perhaps best remembered as a recording artist.  In 1958 he released his first solo recording, Swingin' Pipe Organ on the RCA label which was believed to be the first contemporary style recording of popular music to appear on theatre organ.  In 1972, his album on the Project 3 Label, Big, Bold and Billy was the all-time best selling theatre organ album released until that time.

As a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Nalle composed many pieces that gained traction in the popular music field, most notably Center City Rag and Show Business.  He also contributed many articles and reviews to magazines such as the American Guild of Organists Music magazine and the Journal of the American Theatre Organ Society.

In 1975, he became the artist-in-residence for the Wichita Theatre Organ, Inc, where he played the New York Paramount WurliTzer installed in Wichita's Century II auditorium.

Nalle passed away in 2005 at the age of 84 at his home in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Arrangement of Materials:

All of the collection is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically.  However, photographs are arranged by size within the folder.

Acquisition Information:

Guide to the Billy Nalle Collection AOIAL.ATOC.RG0011
Finding Aid Authors: Andrew Schaeffer & Michelle Merriman.
Language of description
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the The American Organ Institute Archives and Library Repository

2101 W. Tecumseh Rd
Suite C
Norman Oklahoma 73069 United States
(405) 325-3341