Pee Wee Crayton Biography

Connie Curtis Crayton, 18 December 1914, Liberty Hill, Texas, USA, d. 25 June 1985, Los Angeles, California, USA. After learning to play ukulele and banjo as a child, Crayton took up the guitar in his mid-twenties. He was inspired by Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker, the latter of whom taught Crayton the basics of electric guitar playing. His tutelage was completed at the side of another legendary guitarist, John Collins, and he began playing with local bands before graduating to Ivory Joe Hunter’s bay area band in 1946. After making his recording debut with Hunter for Pacific Records, he recorded his first efforts under his own name and these were later issued on 4 Star Records after his success with Modern Records. In 1947 Crayton formed a trio, and after an obscure release on the tiny Gru-V-Tone label, began recording for Modern between 1948 and 1951, finding success with ‘Blues After Hours’, ‘Texas Hop’, and, his biggest hit ‘I Love You So’. Soon after he switched to Aladdin Records and Recorded In Hollywood for one-off sessions. Imperial Records took Crayton to New Orleans in 1954-55 to record with Dave Bartholomew’s band, and the following year he moved to Detroit to record for Fox and Vee Jay Records in nearby Chicago. During this period he was admired by and became the inspiration for young local guitarist Kenny Burrell. Moving back to Los Angeles in 1960, he recorded an unissued session for Kent Records (Modern) and subsequently recorded single sessions for the Jamie/Guyden, Smash and Edco labels, before leaving the music business in 1964 for five years, after recording the obscure Sunset Blues Band for Liberty Records’ Sunset subsidiary.

Rediscovered in the blues boom of the late 60s, he recommenced his recording career with an unissued session for Blue Horizon Records, a well-received album for Vanguard Records entitled Things I Used To Do, and an explosive appearance with Johnny Otis’ band at the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival. The five years or so before his death coincided with another resurgence of interest in blues and R&B, and this saw Crayton reaching an even wider audience with albums recorded for his friend Otis, solo albums, and albums with ‘Big’ Joe Turner on Pablo, new blues projects for the Murray Brothers, through Ace Records initiating a large-scale reissue programme of his Modern Records classics from the late 40s/early 50s.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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