18 December 1914
Rockdale, Milam County, Texas, United States
25 June 1985 (aged 70)
Connie Curtis Crayton (December 18, 1914 – June 25, 1985) known as Pee Wee Crayton, was an American rhythm & blues and blues guitarist and singer.
Born in Rockdale, Texas, United States, there are several stories on how Crayton acquired the name Pee Wee. In a Living Blues article in the 1980s, he stated that friend and singer, Roy Brown, gave him the nickname. This makes sense since Brown had a way of making nicknames for many of his friends. It has also been said that his father gave him the nickname as a tribute to a local Texas piano player.
Crayton began playing guitar seriously after moving to California in 1935, and settling in San Francisco. While there he absorbed the music of T-Bone Walker, but developed his own unique approach. His aggressive playing contrasted with his smooth vocal style, and was copied by many later blues guitarists.
In 1948 he signed a recording contract with Modern Records. One of his first recordings was the instrumental, "Blues After Hours", which reached #1 in the Billboard R&B chart late that year. Its B-side, the pop ballad "I'm Still in Love With You", and the quicker "Texas Hop", were good examples of his work, but his style was of its time and Crayton found it difficult to progress.
He went on to record for many other record labels in the 1950s including Imperial in New Orleans, Louisiana, Vee-Jay in Chicago and Jamie in Philadelphia. It is thought he was the first blues guitarist to use a Fender Stratocaster, given to him by Leo Fender. Crayton largely faded from view until Vanguard unleashed his LP, Things I Used To Do, in 1971. After that his profile was raised somewhat; he toured and made a few more albums prior to his death.
A longtime resident of Los Angeles, California, Crayton died there of a heart attack in 1985, and was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery.
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