Thursday, August 24, 2023

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Happy Birthday, Wynonie Harris


On this day, August 24, in 1915 in Omaha, Nebraska, Wynonie Harris was born.

Happy Birthday, "Mr. Blues."

Harris isn't nearly as famous as he ought to be. But those familiar with his works know a special joy, a special dirty joy!

As Bill Dahl wrote in AllMusic:

No blues shouter embodied the rollicking good times that he sang of quite like raucous shouter Wynonie Harris. "Mr. Blues," as he was not-so-humbly known,  joyously related risque tales of sex, booze, and endless parties in his trademark raspy voice over some of the jumpingest horn-powered combos of the postwar era.

Harris started out his show biz career as a dancer, but, inspired by the like of Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Rushing, he soon became a professional singer. And he left Omaha for Los Angeles in 1940.

He made his recording debut in 1944 fronting Lucky Millinder's band on the song "Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well" -- though by the time it was released the next year, Harris had left the band. Here's that song:

By 1945, Harris had a solo career, signing first with Philo Records. Most of the tunes I know and love, however, came from Harris' time on King Records. 

Harris had many R&B hits in the late '40s and early '50s. But his career began to fade. Harris died at the age of 53 of esophageal cancer in 1969.

Here are some songs from Wynonie Harris' glory years. Let's start with "Good Morning, Judge":

Here's a sweet ode by Harris to his grandmother:

I don't know how much air play this song, "Kept on Sittin' on It" actually got back in 1947. But I'd like to think a lot.

And finally, here's one in which Harris expresses his fondness for sweet, gelatin-based desserts: 

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