Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Wynonie Harris was born in Omaha in 1920, and very little is known about his early life. He actually started his musical career as a dancer and later joined the Lucky Millinder band in the mid forties. His first release was in 1944, "Who Threw The Whiskey in the Well" on the Decca Record Label, featuring a young Preston Love on sax. It quickly climbed to #4 on the national charts. During this time, Harris performed with such greats as Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnnet, and Cab Calloway.
In 1947, after years of recording for Decca, Harris switched to Kin Records and his career took off like a rocket. "Good Rockin' Tonight" hit the top of the charts and was later recorded by Elvis Presley, which, by the way, was Elvis' calling card to fame. Harris' recording career holds 64 separate releases and ran from 1944 to 1957. Most of his recordings were stories of living it up and turned into big hits for him: "Drinkin Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee," (also recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis), "All She Wants To Do Is Rock", "Bloodshot Eyes", and "Good Morning Judge" just to name a few.
Wynonie eventually made his home in Oakland, California where he tended bar. When he found out he was dying, he called all his friends together for one last party. He died in the summer of 1969