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Wynonie Harris

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Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris (August 24, 1915-June 14, 1969) was an American blues shouter and rhythm and blues singer.

He was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Harris traveled as a singer and dancer with the Lucky Millinder Big Band in his youth. His first big solo hit was in 1944 with his record “Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well”. He was a dynamic live performer who brought a lot of attention to the emerging styles of rhythm and blues.

Harris made a major contribution to the birth of rock and roll when he covered “Good Rocking Tonight”, written and originally recorded by Roy Brown. Brown’s version was a jump blues with a jazz rhythm section. Harris’s cover version was much more frantic and played with a much stronger back beat. In effect, Harris, a black artist, had done what many white artists were to do later. He had turned blues into rock and roll and made one of the first rock and roll records. The song was later covered by Elvis Presley.

Harris recorded for many labels and in 1947, had a hit on Aladdin Records with “Wynonie’s Blues”, featuring Illinois Jacquet on tenor sax. His greatest success came at King Records where he was the leading male solo artist. “All She Wants to Do Is Rock” went to Number One on the R&B charts. Many of his songs were novelty numbers, like “(Don’t Roll Those) Bloodshot Eyes (at Me)”, “Good Morning, Judge”, and “I Love my Baby’s Pudding”, and his last hit, “Loving Machine”.

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