<back - WYNONIE HARRIS - Wynonie Harris is born in Omaha, Nebraska, August 24 1915. He attended Creighton University as a pre-med student in the mid 1930s and during that time he discovered his life long passion for the Blues. By 1938 Wynonie was already establishing a reputation as a Blues performer in his local town. He was also a seasoned hoofer, drummer and comedian by the time he left Omaha for Los Angeles in 1940.  There Wynonie played drums, danced, sang and also appeared in a movie, 'Hit Parade Of 1943'. Wynonie Harris was heavily influenced by the music of Louis Jordan.

After a stint with the Lucky Millinder in 1944, (replacing Sister Rosetta Tharpe), with the hit 'Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well?', he went solo. He worked regularly with Jazz-oriented groups, including Illinois Jacquet, Lionel Hampton and Charles Mingus. Wynonie 'Mr. Blues' Harris debuted on wax under his own name in 1945 with backing from The Johnny Otis Orchestra. His early solo hits included Wynonie's Blues, That's The Stuff You Gotta Watch, Playful Baby and Young and Wild for the Philo, Apollo and Bullet labels. In 1947 Wynonie Harris signed with Cincinnati's King Records and his career took off. He released Roy Brown's 'Good Rockin' Tonight' and it hit the top of the R&B charts. Wynonie Harris idolized Big Joe Turner and modeled Good Rockin' Tonight after Big Joe's style to give it the 'rockin' rhythm which had been heard in Gospel music for many years. This record is what began the whole 'rockin' craze in the Blues, starting around the late 1940's, leading America and the rest of the world into the greatest musical revolution of all time. It is a widely held opinion by musicologists and critics that without this record, Rock n' Roll would never have happened. After that, Wynonie Harris was rarely absent from the R&B charts for the next 4 years releasing  All She Wants to Do Is Rock, I Want My Fanny Brown, Sittin' on It All the Time, I Like My Baby's Pudding, Good Morning Judge, Bloodshot Eyes  and Lovin' Machine were only some of the smash hits Wynonie had into the early and mid 1950's, numbering 13 tracks in all. In the late 1950's, 'Mr. Blues', was forced to retire and moved to Los Angeles where he did small nightclub gigs occasionally and managed a bar. Into the 1940's the demand for his music and live appearances began to rise and he attempted a comeback in the early 40s and again in 1947. Unfortunately, by 1948 he had taken ill and passed away on June 14, 1949. Wynonie Harris was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1994.  MP- Good Rockin' Tonite |


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