Listen - Wynonie Harris performs Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well
Wynonie Harris is one of those great singers that you've probably never heard of. Along with Roy Brown, Big Joe Turner, Ike Turner and Louis Prima and a handful of others, Wynonie Harris pioneered a jump blues style that would give birth to rock-n-roll.
Wynonie Harris hailed from Omaha, Nebraska and kicked around the uptown blues circuits for years before he got hired by a band leader named Lucky Millinder. Wynonie, with his smooth and powerful voice, good looks and reported stage presence that lured the women closer and closer, quickly became the lead singer of the band.
On May 26, 1944, the same day that 5,500 French civilians were killed as the American Air Force went head to head with Hermann Goring's Luftwaffe over southern France, Wynonie Harris recorded his second song for Lucky Millinder. The song was crowd favorite Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well. Decca didn't get around to releasing it for almost a year, but when they did, it went No. 1 on multiple charts. It stayed No. 1 on the hit parade for 6 impressive weeks. Wynonie would shortly be recognized as the star of the band and, as they all do, went solo. He formed his new band in Los Angeles and, along with T-Bone Walker moved the jump blues sound closer and closer to what would become known as rock-n-roll in 10 years time.
Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well tells the humorous story of fictional character Elder Brown fretting over the spiked punch bowl as the fearful congregation looks to Deacon Jones for spiritual guidance. But the Deacon, like Brother Jones and Mr. Ash, is feeling "mighty fine" and as "high as a Georgia Pine."
With the call and response singing, Wynonie's sermonizing, the storyline of church goers sinning and the undeniable upbeat rhythm, it's not hard to see how this one was a nice cross-over hit.