Rock and roll, pop
| 25 March 1933 (age 82)
Bermondsey, London, England (1933-03-25) |
Twenty Reasons To Be Cheerful, Rag Moppin'
Decca Records, Parlophone, Polydor Records
Terry Dene, Vince Eager, Lord Rockingham's XI, Tony Crombie, Marty Wilde
Charles William Harris
Wee Willie Harris Wikipedia
Wee Willie Harris (born Charles William Harris, 25 March 1933, Bermondsey, London) is an English rock and roll singer. He is best known for his energetic stage shows and TV performances since the 1950s, when he was known as "Britain's wild man of rock 'n' roll".
Harris left his job at a Peek Freans bakery in London to start his music career. He began performing at The 2i's Coffee Bar in Soho, London, where he was the resident piano player, performing with Tommy Steele, Adam Faith, Screaming Lord Sutch and others. He was named for his 5' 2" height. In November 1957, he was picked by the TV producer, Jack Good, to appear in the BBC show Six-Five Special. His appearances on the show led to concerns being expressed in the media about the BBC's role in "promoting teenage decadence". His debut single, "Rockin' At the 2 I's", was released on the Decca label in December 1957, and was followed by several others, although none reached the UK Singles Chart.
He became a popular performer on TV shows and in live performances, and was known for his unrelenting energy, multicoloured dyed hair (often green, orange or pink), and clothes including "larger-than-life stage jackets that looked like the coat hanger was still inside, tight drainpipe trousers, and a huge polka-dot bow tie". Another critic wrote that: "He gyrates like an exploding Catherine wheel, emitting growls, squeals and what sounds like severe hiccupping". Paul McCartney and John Lennon reportedly queued for his autograph when he played in Liverpool in 1958.
In May 1960, he joined a tour of the UK featuring Conway Twitty, Freddy Cannon and Johnny Preston. He continued to record in the 1960s, for HMV, Polydor and Parlophone, and continued to perform in the UK as well as in Israel, Spain and elsewhere, and on cruise ships.
He resurfaced in the late 1970s as a nostalgia act, after Ian Dury mentioned him in the song "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3". Harris later recorded an album dedicated to Dury, Twenty Reasons To Be Cheerful (2000), and his early recordings were released on CD in 1999. In 1991, he briefly featured in the video for Hale & Pace's "The Stonk" contribution to Comic Relief and, in 2003, he released the album Rag Moppin', backed by the Alabama Slammers.
In 2005, Harris appeared as a "mystery guest" on the comedy music quiz programme Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and was easily identified. In 2011, he was interviewed by Melvyn Bragg as part of the series "Reel History of Britain" talking about Rock 'n' Roll in Britain."Rockin' At The 2 I's" / "Back To School Again" (Decca, 1957)
"Love Bug Crawl" / "Rosie Lee" (Decca, 1958)
"Got A Match" / "No Chemise, Please !" (Decca, 1958)
"Wild One" / "Little Bitty Girl" (Decca, 1960)
"You Must Be Joking" / "Better To Have Loved" (HMV, 1963)
"Listen to the River Roll Along" / "Try Moving Baby" (Polydor, 1966)
"Someone's in the Kitchen With Diana" / "Walk With Peter And Paul" (Parlophone, 1966)
"Together" / "Rock 'n' Roll Jamboree" (Decca, 1974)
Rocking With Wee Willie (Decca, 1958)
I Go Ape (Arton, 1960)
I Go Ape (Arton, 1962)
Twenty Reasons To Be Cheerful (Fury, 2000)
Rag Moppin' (Pollytone, 2003)