Pee Wee Crayton

Pee Wee Crayton was an icon and pioneer of modern blues guitar. With inspiration from jazz legend Charlie Christian and lessons from T-Bone Walker, Crayton helped define the emerging West Coast blues scene and electric blues guitar, and became a patriarch of both. In his heyday (late '40s to early '50s) his popularity was second only to his mentor, T-Bone Walker, and his success preceded that of Lowell Fulson, Gatemouth Brown, and B.B. King.

Connie Curtis Pee Wee Crayton was born near Austin, Texas in Rockdale, on December 18, 1914. In 1935 he moved to Los Angeles. By World War II he was in the San Francisco Bay Area, an aspiring musician. There he supplemented the inspiration of jazz guitar trailblazer Charlie Christian with personal tutelage by a man who would be a close friend till his passing thirty years later, the original electric blues guitar master, T-Bone Walker. Crayton told interviewer John Breckow, “We got to be real good friends.” According to another Pee Wee interview, T-Bone “showed me how to string up the guitar to get the blues sound out of it. T-Bone was gonna try to help me learn how to play. My timing was real bad. T-Bone helped me with my timing. He would play the piano or the bass and show me how to play in time.” The two went on to stage friendly battles, and when T- Bone's health problems interfered with his gigs late in life, Crayton was on call to fill in whenever he was available. Pee Wee added some rawness to Walker's stylish blues approach, and chord knowledge gleaned from guitarist John Collins involving the use of four fingers. Pee Wee proudly stated, “I know how to play them big, pretty chords and where to put 'em at.”

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