Lucky Millinder: Shout Sister Shout

24 Feb

The man called Lucky was born Lucious Venable Millinder in Alabama in 1900, and perhaps he was lucky — it’s said he played no instruments, couldn’t read music and seldom sang. But he could lead a band, and he could recognize talent, and his band produced music that the audience felt lucky to listen to.

Dizzy Gillespie played trumpet for the band briefly in 1942, and it’s said Thelonious Monk played piano for it, although Millinder wasn’t a fan of Monk’s and quickly fired him. Monk sued and won $63.33 in back wages, according to Robin Kelly’s book on Thelonious Monk: the life and times of an American original.

Singers Rosetta Tharpe and Wynonie Harris  excelled. The band’s biggest hit was Who Threw The Whiskey In the Well; Who Said Shorty Wasn’t Coming Back is worth a listen. Above is a link to Shout Sister, starring Tharpe. 

In the 1950s, Millinder complemented his band with a show as a disc jockey on New York radio, but as the preference of the majority of  music-lovers morphed from rhythm and blues to rock and roll, Lucky wasn’t so, and his band faded into obscurity.

He died in New York in 1966 at age 66.


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