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Monday, September 20, 2010

Wynonie Harris-Another big A** labour of major love list...........

 Wynonie Harris


Wynonie Harris was born in July of 1915 in Omaha, Nebraska. In his teens he seemed to fit the cliche as a "born entertainer" around his home town . He was a singer, dancer, comedian, and drummer, but in a thoughtful moment in his life he decided to enter the field of medicine and so enrolled at Omaha's Creighton University as a pre-med student. Once he discovered the sound of the boogie woogie and blues stylings that were beginning to come into prominence in the mid thirties, medicine became an afterthought. He appeared around the Omaha area (at such spots as Bell's Club Harlem) and also spent some time in Kansas City which at the time was a hotbed of musical inspiration. About 1940 Harris decided to go West young man, and wound up in Los Angeles where the night club circuit was beginning to hit its stride along Central Avenue, the heart of the Black community.

After an appearance at Chicago's Rhumboogie in the early forties, he is heard by Lucky Millinder who was looking for a replacement for Sister Rosetta Tharpe as vocalist with the band. In the Spring of 1944 the Millinder band records "Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well" with Harris on vocal (Decca # 18674 with "Hurry Hurry" on the flip side). The record turns out to be a smash number one on the R & B charts. This gives Harris the push to go out as a solo artist. After leaving Millinder he records for Philo Records (soon to become Aladdin) in Los Angeles in the summer of 1945 with a combo led by Johnny Otis with "Around The Clock Blues - Parts 1 and 2" on # 103 which turned out to be his second top ten seller. The Johnny Otis band was often part of the line up at the Club Alabam, The Barrelhouse, and other legendary night spots along Central Avenue. Philo / Aladdin released "Cock-A-Doodle Doo" and "Yonder Goes My Baby" on # 104 followed in early 1946 by "Mr. Blues Jumped The Rabbit" and "Whiskey And Jelly Roll Blues" on # 171 as Wynonie uses his "Mr. Blues" nickname for which he is known throughout R & B circles. In November of the year "Rugged Road" and "Come Back Baby" are recorded on # 172. During the summer of 1947 Wynonie records "Big City Blues" and "Ghost Of A Chance" on # 196 followed by "Hard Ridin' Mama" and "You Got To Get Yourself A Job, Girl" on # 208. The next two years saw Harris record for a number of other independent labels starting with Apollo Records - "Young Man's Blues" / "Straighten Him Out" on # 360; "That's The Stuff You Gotta Watch" / "Baby Love" on # 361; "Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door" / "Wynonie's Blues" (which was a top seller on the R & B charts) on # 362; "She's Gone With The Wind" / "Here Comes The Blues" on # 363; "Poppa Treetop" / "Playful Baby" (another top ten seller) on # 372; "Everybody's Boogie" / "Time To Change Your Tune" on # 378; "Young And Wild" / "Take Me Out Of The Rain" on # 381; and "Rebecca's Blues" and "I Got A Lying Woman" on # 387. Harris also had a shot with Lionel Hampton's Hamp-Tone label and a couple of recordings for Nashville based Bullet Records - "Dig This Boogie" and the wonderfully named tune "Lightning Struck The Poor House" on # 251, and "Drinking By Myself" and "My Baby's Barrelhouse" on # 252.

In late 1947 Wynonie Harris decided to sign on with King Records owned by Syd Nathan and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. His first effort for the label was "Wynonie's Boogie" and "Rose Get Your Clothes" (great title)! In early 1948 Harris took on his own version of a tune by a young R & B artist named Roy Brown that was originally offered to Harris. "Good Rockin' Tonight" was the clarion call of the coming revolution in the musical tastes of America and the world. It was released on King # 4210 (with "Good Morning Mr. Blues" on the other side) It was a huge seller and a number one on the R & B charts. This was followed by "Love Is Like Rain" / "Your Money Don't Mean A Thing" on # 4217,and another top ten R & B seller "Lollipop Mama" with "Blow Your Brains Out" on the flip side of #4226. Wynonie rocked into 1949 (which turned out to be a monster year for Mr. Blues) with "Blowing To California" and "Bite Again" on # 4252, followed by a huge double sided hit record "I Feel That Old Age Coming On" and "Grandma Plays The Numbers" on # 4276. Another top seller on the R & B charts for Harris was his version of "Drinking Wine Spoo-Dee-Oodie" (also a hit for Stick McGhee on Atlantic) with "She Just Won't Sell No More" on # 4292, and still another top seller - "I Want My Fanny Brown" and "All She Wants To Do Is Rock" on # 4303 with both sides charting in the top ten.

In January of 1950 Harris gets together with the Dud Bascomb Combo for an extended engagement in Philadelphia at the Club 421. That same month King releases "Sittin On It All The Time" and "Baby Shame On You" on # 4330. By February the record is a top seller on the West Coast especially in California, and hits the top ten nationally. In rapid fire succession, King releases another side by Harris in late February with "I Love My Baby's Pudding" (another national top ten hit) and "I Can't Take It No More" on # 4342. In March at the Royal Theater in Baltimore features Wynonie Harris with his old mentor Lucky Millinder and his orchestra. In April "I Love My Baby's Pudding" is a big seller in Georgia and Florida. In May Harris plays the Paradise Theater with Erskine Hawkins ("Tippin In")and his band. In June, Harris joins Annie Laurie, Stick McGhee, and the Eddie Durham band for a string of one nighters through the South and part of the Midwest. In July Harris records "Good Morning Judge"(a top ten seller with "Stormy Night Blues")on King # 4378 and it immediately sells big on the West coast. In October "Mr. Blues Is Coming To Town" and "I Want To Love You Baby" is released on King # 4402. In November Aladdin Records releases an LP called "Blues After Hours" featuring some tunes recorded earlier by Wynonie Harris. Later that same month Wynonie and Lucky Millinder get together for King Records with two new records. On # 4418 "Oh Babe" (a top ten hit, also recorded by Louis Prima) features a vocal by Harris with the flip side of "Silent George" features Myra Johnson on vocal. On # 4419 as listed by Lucky Millinder, Harris does the vocal on "Teardrops From My Eyes" ( a cover of Ruth Brown's Atlantic hit), while the flip side is "Please Open Your Heart" with vocal by Lee Richards. The year ends as "Oh Babe" becomes a big seller in both Dallas and Houston Texas.

Wynonie Harris starts off 1951 with a new record for King - "Put It Back" and "Triflin' Woman" on # 4415. This is followed in short order by "I Believe I'll Fall In Love" and "A Love Untrue" on # 4445 and "Just Like Two Drops Of Water" and "Tremblin" on #4448. In July Harris undertakes his first trip to the West coast in three years which features an appearance at the annual Cavalcade Of Jazz concert at L.A.'s Wrigley Field which will headline Lionel Hampton, and also feature Billy Eckstine, Joe Liggins, Roy Brown, and Percy Mayfield. The tour of one nighters will also feature Stick McGhee, Annie Laurie, and the band of Eddie Durham. In June "Tremblin" is a hot seller in Georgia and Northern Florida. In July "Confessin The Blues" and "(Don't Roll Those) Bloodshot Eyes (At Me)" on King # 4461 is released. "Eyes" is an immediate best seller along the West Coast especially in Los Angeles, and soon becomes another national top seller. Harris plays a week at the Earle Theater in Philadelphia with Lil Green and the Joe Thomas band. In late September King releases # 4468 with "Man Have I Got Troubles" and "I'll Never Give Up" as Wynonie continues his prolific recording career with the label. In November Harris headlines at the Regal in Chicago along with Mabel Scott and Gene "Jug" Ammons. In December Harris goes into the recording studio with the Todd Rhodes band and records "Lovin Machine" and "Luscious Woman" on # 4485. Wynonie closes out the year with an engagement at Detroit's famous Flame Show Bar.

The new year of 1952 starts out for Harris with a good chart reaction to "Lovin Machine" especially in the East in New York, Newark, and Philadelphia. It becomes Wynonie Harris' final national top ten best seller in the R & B field. In March, again with the Todd Rhodes band, Wynonie records "Here Comes The Night" and "My Playful Baby's Gone" (a sequel to his earlier hit on Apollo) on # 4507. The record begins to sell well on the West coast. In April Harris along with Larry Darnell and the Eddie Durham band ready a tour of one nighters through the Midwest and Texas and then end up in New York in June. Also in April, "Keep On Churning" and "Married Woman Stay Married" is released on King # 4526. In July "Keep On Churning" makes the R & B best sellers in New York. In early August Wynonie and Larry Darnell play a week at Baltimore's Royal Theater. In August Harris records a vocal version of the R & B standard "Night Train" with lyrics written by Wynonie himself. The flip side is "Do It Again, Please" on King # 4555. In November "Rot Gut" and "Greyhound" are released by King on # 4592. At year's end Wynonie Harris begins a tour with Peppermint Harris and Larry Darnell.

In late January of 1953 Wynonie once again teams with Larry Darnell and also Varetta Dillard and the Frank Humphries band for a tour of one nighters through the Mid-Atlantic states and the South to run through February and mid March. Coinciding with the start of he tour King Records releases # 4593 - "Bad News Baby" and "Bring It Back". Harris records an "answer record" to Ruth Brown's huge hit "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean". His tune is entitled "Mama Your Daughter Done Told A Lie On Me" for King on #4620 ("Wasn't That Good?" is on the flip side). In May, Wynonie Harris comes in second place among male blues singers in a poll conducted by the Pittsburgh Courier. In June the Gale Agency announces an all star R & B package tour to set out for two months during the summer. Headlining will be Ruth Brown along with Wynonie, Lester Young, The Clovers, Buddy Johnson and his band with Ella Johnson and Nolan Lewis, former heavyweight champion Joe Louis, and others. In June Harris and Larry Darnell go at it for a "Battle Of The Blues" in Delaware. In late June "The Deacon Don't Like It" and "Song Of The Bayou" on King # 4635 is released. When the big road show hits Cleveland it is promoted by Alan Freed and does huge box office in that city drawing over ten thousand to the Cleveland Arena. An older Harris record "Rot Gut" shows up on the top sellers charts in North Carolina. In an interesting double bill, Wynonie appears with Earl Hines at Philadelphia's Emerson's Grille in September, and the following month pairs with Varetta Dillard at New York's Apollo Theater. Also in November King issues "Please Louise" and "Nearer My Love To Thee" on # 4668.

In January of 1954 King releases "Quiet Whiskey" and "Down, Boy, Down" on # 4685. During the spring "Shake That Thing" and "Keep-A-Talking" on # 4716 hits the streets. In July Wynonie takes time to join others in paying tribute to long time radio personality Willie Bryant at Harlem's Baby Grand. In July "Don't Take My Whiskey Away From Me" and "I Get A Thrill" is released by King on # 4724. In September at Los Angeles Savoy Ballroom, Harris along with Lowell Fulson and the Floyd Dixon band play a well received extended appearance. At year's end King has one more side by Wynonie Harris - "All She Wants To Do Is Mambo" and "Christina" on # 4763. In February of 1955 Harris does another "mambo blues" - "Good Mambo Tonight" along with "Git To Gittin' Baby" on King # 4774. "Fishtail Blues" and "Mister Dollar" on # 4789 is out in late April, followed by "Git With The Grits" and "Drinking Sherry Wine" on # 4814. In mid 1955, the changing face of the music is starting to become apparent as Wynonie Harris sees meager sales of his records, but still maintains good interest in his personal appearances among adults who know of his success for the past decade. But - it is the teenagers of America who are becoming the wave of the future in record sales and demand for his live performances wanes. King Records keeps at it with a September release of "Man's Best Friend" and "Wine, Wine, Sweet Wine" on # 4826. In November Harris appears in Buffalo with George "Hound Dog" Lorenz big R & B revue also starring Charlie & Ray, The Jacks, and Etta James. In late November King issues "Shot Gun Wedding" and "I Don't Know Where To Go" on # 4839. King Records closes out the year with a double re-release of "Bloodshot Eyes" and "Good Morning Judge" on # 4852.

The club dates have stopped and he has not recorded any new material in a long time despite the steady flow of recordings from King. The label drops him and Harris is out of music. Then in late 1956 his manager Jimmy Evans announces that Harris has signed with Atco Records after a decade with King and will attempt a return to the R & B scene. In December Atco releases "Tell A Whale Of A Tale" and "Destination Love" on # 6081 which turns out to be their only recording with Harris. In May of 1957 King Records releases "Big Old Country Fool" and "That's Me Right Now" on # 5050, and follows that up with another one in the can with "A Tale Of Woe" and "There's No Substitute For Love" on # 5073. In February of 1959 King Records announces an LP called "Battle Of The Blues : Part Two" featuring Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown. Wynonie Harris also battled alcoholism for much of the time and this addiction also took its toll. In 1960 King again re-releases "Bloodshot Eyes" along with "Good Rockin Tonight" on # 5416. That same year Roulette Records also has a version of "(Don't Roll Those) Bloodshot Eyes (At Me)" and "Sweet Lucy Brown" on #4291. Harris spend the sixties running taverns in the New York area, and then moves out to the West Coast and does the same in Los Angeles, and then in Oakland, California. Wynonie Harris had one last recording session for Chess Records in 1964, but nothing was released in his lifetime from that date. His last appeareance was at a tribute to Black music in America in Santa Monica in 1966. Mister Blues died of throat cancer in June of 1969.

Once again we are lucky because of recording technology, the CD format,continuing interest by special product record labels, and Europe and Japan, for preserving a lot of the music that otherwise would be lost forever. There are a lot of CDs containing the work of Wynonie Harris that have survived his passing, and so his musical legacy lives on. The three most important works are the "Best Of . . . " package on Rhino that presents an overview of his work with the most memorable of his songs. It contains 18 tracks from his best years. A more completist package is the four disc 81 track "Rockin' The Blues" from Proper in the UK from 2001. The third set is a chronological retrospective of Harris and is from Jazz Classics in France. It comes in four volumes with from 20 to 25 tracks on each volume. They are "Wynonie Harris : 1944-45", "45-47", ""47-49", and "1950-52". Besides those three packages there are many other CDs available, many of them with song duplication on a large scale so a check of the tracks on each is warranted. "Best Of . . ." on Blues Forever-18 tracks from 2005; "Bloodshot Eyes" on UK Indigo-18 tracks from 1995; "Lovin' Machine" from UK Ace-26 tracks and its companion piece-"Whiskey, Women, and Fish Tails"-21 tracks; and two interesting releases on CD - "Do You Want To Rock?" on UK Ace just out featuring unreleased King and DeLuxe tracks; and "Good Rockin' Tonight" on Magic - 24 tracks 12 each by Wynonie and Roy Brown featuring their competing versions of the title tune.

Wynonie Harris with a penchant for hard partying and high times, lived the life he wanted despite its toll on his health. He is a true American original and is deserving just as much as anyone else you can name, as the "inventor" of rock 'n roll - the music that changed everything. "Mr. Blues" rules !

Here is a BIG collection of what I have (there will be one more list in a bit....there are a few things I still have to dig up). Meanwhile, enjoy this was an exhausting little project, and I've tried as hard as I can to get as much recording detail as possible. 


Good Rockin' Tonight (December 28, 1947 Cincinnati)
Hurry, Hurry w/ Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra - (1944)
I Want My Fanny Brown (1948)
I Feel That Old Age Coming On (1949)
Hard Ridin' Mama  (NYC 1947)
All She Wants to Do Is Rock (1948)
Grandma Plays the Numbers (1949)
I Like My Baby's Pudding (1949)
Come Back, Baby  (1946)
I Gotta Lyin' Woman with Oscar Pettiford and his All Stars, Los Angeles, September 1945
Do It Again, Please with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, New York City, June 1952
Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop Pt. 1 (1946)Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop Pt. 2 (1946)
In the Evenin' Blues (1946)
Baby Look At You (1945) Wynonie "Blues" Harris with Jack McVea & his All Stars
Drinkin' by Myself Recorded Nashville, 1946
Confessin' the Blues (1951)
Lightnin' Struck the Poor House Recorded Nashville, 1946
Lovin' Machine (1951)
Cock-A.Doddle-Doo (1945) Wynonie "(Mr. Blues)" Harris & Johnny Otis' All Stars
Just Like Two Drops of Water (1951)
Bloodshot Eyes (1951)
Here Comes The Blues (1945) Wynonie "Blues" Harris with Illinois Jacquet & his All Stars
Here Comes the Night (1951)
My Playful Baby with Johnnie Alston and his All Stars, Los Angeles, December 1945
Night Train with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, New York City, June 1952
Adam Come and Get Your Rib (1952)
Drinking Blues Recorded Nashville, 1946.
Git With the Grits with the Sonny Thompson band, Cincinnati, November 1954
Greyhound (1953)
The Deacon Don't Like It (1953)
Christina (1954)
Don't Take My Whiskey Away with the Sonny Thompson band, Cincinnati April 1954
Fish Tail Blues April 1954
Bad News Baby (There'll Be No Rockin' Tonight) with the Sonny Thompson band, Cincinnati, November 1952
Bring It Back with the Sonny Thompson band, Cincinnati, November 1952

Around The Clock parts 1 & 2  with Johnny Otis’ All Stars, Los Angeles July 1945
Who Threw The Whiskey in the Well Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra - (Decca 18674 1945)
Wynonie's Blues (Apollo 362 1945)
Playful Baby  with Johnnie Alston and his All Stars, Los Angeles, December 1945
Yonder Goes My Baby with Johnny Otis’ All Stars, Los Angeles July 1945
Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee (1949)
You Got To Get Yourself A Job, Girl Wynonie “Mr Blues” Harris and his All Stars, NYC, 1947
My Baby's Barrel House Wynonie (Mr. Blues) Harris, Nashville, March/April 1946
Sittin' on It All the Time King #4330 1950
Ghost Of A Chance Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris and his All-Stars, New York City, July 1947
Married Women - Stay Married with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra, Cincinnati, January 1952
She's Gone With The Wind with Jack McVea and his All Stars Los Angeles Aug. 1945
Good Morning Judge (1950)
Wasn't that good King #4620, 1953
Mr. Blues Is Coming to Town  King #4402 1950
Oh Babe! with Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra, New York City, October 1950
Teardrops From My Eyes with Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra, New York City, October 1950
Triflin' Woman  with the Sonny Thompson band, New York City, October 1950
Mr Blues Jumped The Rabbit (1946)
Good Mambo Tonight with the Sonny Thompson band, Cincinnati, November 1954
Whiskey and Jelly-Roll Blues (1946)
Keep on Churnin' ('til the butter comes) (1952)
Man, Have I Got Troubles 10/25/50 NYC
I'll Never Give Up 2/27/51 NYC
Everybody's Boogie 
with Oscar Pettiford and his All Stars, Los Angeles, September 1945
Time To Change Your Tune Apollo #378 with Oscar Pettiford and his All Stars, Los Angeles, September 1945
Lollipop Mama with the Hot Lips Page Band, Cincinnati, December 1947
Quiet Whiskey 9/11/1953
Down Boy Down NYC, September 1953 /King #4685
Rot-Gut 11/7/1952
Git to Gittin' Baby with the Sonny Thompson band, Cincinnati, November 1954

Rebecca's Blues with Oscar Pettiford and his All Stars, Los Angeles, September 1945
Take Me Out Of The Rain with Johnnie Alston and his All Stars, Los Angeles, December 1945
Drinkin' Sherry Wine  11/29/1954
Papa Tree Top with Johnnie Alston and his All Stars, Los Angeles, December 1945
Big Old Country Fool May 1957
Rock Mr. Blues  (1950)
Shotgun Wedding 11/30/1954
Wine Wine Sweet Wine 11/30/1954 Cincinnati
Stormy Night Blues NYC, May 1950
Nearer My Love To Thee NYC, September 1953
I Don't Know Where to Go 11/30/1954 Cincinnati
Man's Best Friend 11/29/1954 Cincinnati
Rugged Road (1946)
Tremblin' 2/27/1951
Keep-a-Talking 4/14/1954 Cincinnati
Please Louise NYC, September 1953
There's No Substitute for Love 7/17/1957 NYC
Mama, Your Daughter Done Lied on Me (1953)
Luscious Woman with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra, Cincinnati, July 1951
Shake That Thing 4/14/1954 Cincinnati king #4716
Mr. Dollar 11/30/1954 Cincinnati


  1. Wow! This is an incredible collection! Thank you for taking so much of your time to put all of this together. I have been searching for "Bloodshot Eyes" and in the process developed a taste for Wynonie Harris. You have given me the chance to explore this musician in much more depth. I shall listen and drink a few beers. As I enjoy my Wynonie afternoon I shall heft a pint or six to the health and wealth of Barberella! Yim :)

  2. He's great, isn't he?? :) glad you like it..........drink one for me!! lol!!

  3. I think my favorite Wynonie's record has to be "Here Comes The Blues" (Apollo Records): superb singing, and absolutely unbeatable blues blowing by Illinois Jacquet. The classiest R&B ever?

  4. Not to mention, both Mingus, and also Bill Doggett, on that one, too :) You know, having been a fan of him for years, my tastes have evolved. I used to be a fan more of the novelty numbers, now I really like of all of his releases. Btw, I'm thinking of going through everything that I have featuring Jacquet, soon....that's a lot of stuff to go

  5. "Oh Babe," cut with Millinder in 1950 is high on my list--apocalyptic brass, just a bravura performance all around. I also dig stuff like "Rock Mr. Blues," where the guys get in some tradeoff backing vocals...great!

  6. ^5! It's funny, EONS ago, when I was in college, listening to Wynonie, and the Buddy Johnson Orch., were our playing cards and drinking night music. A few friends and I used to blast the 78s I filched from my mom's collection in our dorm hallways on an old wind up portable victrola. All those girls listening to XTC and Adam Ant thought we more than a little crazy. Maybe we were, but I'm just as crazy about him, 30 years later :)

  7. Wow, what a thorough post!

    Unfortunately, all three mediafire files are deleted!

    I had CDs called "Bloodshot Eyes" and "Women Whiskey & Fish Tails" back in the 1990s. I need to listen to more Wynonie...

    Keep up the cool work!

  8. Deleted, you say? Wow..Thanks for telling me. I can reload them on megaupload ASAP.... I'll get to those in the morning. :)

  9. Are you sure they're deleted? I just checked, and the files opened for download for me. Maybe check again, and let me know..........

  10. Thanks for letting me know! I think that these older links need to get re-upped sometimes, and if downloaders let me know I really appreciate it.

  11. Thank you! Great collection!

  12. He's so great that it was time that someone posted a bunch of him, IMHO :)

  13. What a fantastic collection! I've been wanting to explore Wynonie's catalogue for quite some time. Thanks for this treasure trove!

  14. Not a problem....I dug around through a bunch of music and tried to get a pretty varied overview of a lot of his stuff...hope it works for ya. Let me know if there's any probs with the download of these older links, k? :)