Wynonie Harris

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Wynonie Harris (August 24, 1915[1] – June 14, 1969), born in Omaha, Nebraska, was an American blues shouter and rhythm and blues singer of upbeat songs featuring humorous, often ribald lyrics. With fifteen Top 10 hits between 1946 and 1952, Harris is generally considered one of rock and roll's forerunners, influencing Elvis Presley among others.[citation needed] He was the subject of a 1994 biography by Tony Collins.[2]

Contents

Biography

Early life and family

Harris' mother, Mallie Hood Anderson, was fifteen and unmarried at the time of his birth. Harris' paternity is uncertain. Harris' wife, Olive E. Goodlow, and daughter Patricia Vest, have said that Harris' father was a Native American, named Blue Jay. Harris had no father figure in the house until 1920, when his mother married Luther Harris, fifteen years her senior.

In 1931 at age 16, Harris dropped out of high school in North Omaha. The following year his first child, daughter Micky, was born to Naomi Henderson. Ten months later, Harris' second child, son Wesley, was born to Laura Devereaux. Both children were raised by their mothers. Wesley became a singer in the Five Echoes and The Sultans. Later he became a singer and guitarist in Preston Love's band.

In 1935 Harris, age 20, started dating 16-year-old Olive E. Goodlow (Ollie) of neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa, who came to Omaha to watch him perform. On May 20, 1936, Ollie gave birth to daughter Pattie (Adrianne Patricia). On December 11, 1936, they married. Later they lived in the Logan Fontenelle projects in North Omaha. Ollie worked as a barmaid and nurse; Wynonie sang in clubs as well as taking on some odd jobs. Wynonie's mother, Mallie Harris, was Pattie's main caretaker. In 1940, Wynonie and Ollie Harris moved to Los Angeles, California, leaving Pattie with Mallie in Omaha.

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