Stick McGhee

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Stick McGhee
Birth name Granville Henry McGhee
Born (1917-03-23)March 23, 1917
Kingsport, Tennessee, United States
Died August 15, 1961(1961-08-15) (aged 44)
The Bronx, New York, United States
Genres Jump blues, rhythm and blues, electric blues[1]
Occupation(s) Guitarist, singer, songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1940s–1960
Labels Various including Atlantic
Associated acts Brownie McGhee

Granville Henry McGhee, also known as Stick (or Sticks) McGhee,[2] (March 23, 1917 – August 15, 1961) was an African-American jump blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, best known for his blues song, "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee".

Early life[edit]

He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States,[1] and Granville received his nickname during the early years, when he was pushing his older brother, Brownie McGhee, who was stricken with polio, in a wagon with a stick.[3] Granville began playing the guitar when he was thirteen years old. After his freshmen year, Granville dropped out of high school and worked with his father at Eastman Kodak. In 1940, Granville quit his job and moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, and then he relocated to New York. There he entered the military in 1942 and served in the Army during World War II.[3] In 1946, Granville was discharged and settled in New York.[4]

Entertainment career[edit]

In the military, Granville often played his guitar. One of the songs, that McGhee was best known for, was "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee". The original lyrics of the song were as follows:

Drinkin’ that mess is our delight, And when we get drunk, start fightin’ all night. Knockin’ out windows and learnin’ down doors, Drinkin’ half-gallons and callin’ for more. Drinkin’ wine motherfucker, drinkin’ wine! Goddam! Drinkin’ wine motherfucker, drinkin’ wine! Goddam! Drinkin’ wine motherfucker, drinkin’ wine! Goddam! Pass that bottle to me![3]

This song was one of the earliest prototypical rock and roll songs, and was covered by Jerry Lee Lewis and Mike Bloomfield's Electric Flag (as "Wine").[1] The song lent its name to the alcoholic fruit drink, spodi. In 1946, Granville and Brownie McGhee collaborated and modified the song into a clean cut version for Harlem Records.[3] The song was released a year later in January 1947 at the price of 49 cents. The song did not get much airplay time until two years later, when Granville recreated the song for Atlantic Records.[1] As a result, it rose to Number 2 on the Billboard R&B chart, where it stayed for 4 weeks, spending almost half a year on the charts overall.[3]

His songs attracted countless covers over the years. The first cover was by Lionel Hampton featuring Sonny Parker, then Wynonie Harris, and lastly, Loy Gordon & His Pleasant Valley Boys with their hillbilly-bop rendition. His song "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee" maintained its popularity throughout the 1950s by various artists, including Malcolm Yelvington in 1954, Johnny Burnette in 1957, and Jerry Lee Lewis in 1959.[3]

McGhee continued to make records for Atlantic and created popular songs such as "Tennessee Waltz Blues",[1] "Drank Up All the Wine Last Night", "Venus Blues", "Let's Do It", and "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" but his music career overall was not successful.[3] McGhee moved from Atlantic to Essex to create a record called "My Little Rose". The record failed so he moved to King in 1953.[1] There he recorded a number of rock and roll songs such a "Whiskey, Women and Loaded Dice", "Head Happy With Wine", "Jungle Juice", "Six to Eight", "Double Crossin' Liquor", "Dealin' from the Bottom", and "Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter". However, he was unable to make money out of his records so he left King to record for Savoy in 1955, but retired from the music industry in 1960 because he lost his passion for music.[3]

Death[edit]

McGhee died in The Bronx, New York, on August 15, 1961 of lung cancer, at the age of forty-four,[5] and he left his old guitar to Brownie's son before he died.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Bill Dahl. "Stick McGhee". AllMusic. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  2. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 143. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Toshes, Nick. Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' roll: The Birth of Rock in the wild years before Elvis. New York : Da Capo Press, 1999.
  4. ^ "Sticks McGhee". Home.earthlink.net. 1953-09-02. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  5. ^ Doc Rock. "The 1960s". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 

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