Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Doctor Clayton & His Buddy - Pearl Harbour Blues

Doctor Clayton was an American blues singer and songwriter who performed barefoot, wearing comically large, round glasses.
Peter Joe Clayton was born in Georgia on April 19, 1898 (although he later claimed he had been born in Africa), and moved to St. Louis as a child with his family.  He had four children of his own and worked in a factory in St. Louis, while starting his career as a singer.  He could also play piano and ukelele, although he never did so on record.
Doctor Clayton recorded six sides for Bluebird Records in 1935, but only two of those were ever issued.  His family all died in a house fire in 1937, after which Clayton became an alcoholic and began wearing oversized hats and glasses.  Moving to Chicago with Robert Lockwood, Jr., he received attention from Decca Records, but ultimately returned to Bluebird, recording with them again in 1941-42.  He also recorded for Okeh Records at this time.
Among the songs Clayton wrote were "Cheating And Lying Blues," frequently covered by other blues artists, "Pearl Harbor Blues," written after the Pearl Harbor bombing of 1941, and "Moonshine Woman Blues," which became a chart hit for B.B. King as "The Woman I Love" in 1968.  In 1946, he recorded the tunes "Hold That Train Conductor" and "I Need My Baby," which were also both covered by King.  Most of his later recordings featured Blind John Davis on piano.  He was a regional sales success and played regularly in Chicago nightclubs with Lockwood and Sunnyland Slim.
Doctor Clayton died of tuberculosis on January 7, 1947, shortly after his second recording session.  Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red attended his funeral.
Sunnyland Slim is Doctor Claytons Buddy on side 2. These are his first sessions recorded in Chicago and they feature a very irritating whooping/howlering (imo) on almost every track.



gilhodges said...

Are you kidding? The whooping on Side 2 is a flat out thrill. Can't get enough. (I guess that's what makes horse races.) Thanks so much!

Aunt Fin said...

Wow! Featured in the essential book 'Chicago Breakdown' by Mike Rowe. Thank you!!!

Alan Balfour said...

There's lots of reading about the good Doctor at the end of Stefan's discography.

If you click on the front of Talking Blues mag to zoom in on the RCA promo photo you'll see that he's performing in bare feet!!!!! It was Paul Garon who kindly (and trustingly) supplied me with the original for use on the cover.

Xyros said...

Many Thanks Alan for the link to Stefan's site and photo.

Steve626 said...

Thanks for this. I've loved Doctor Clayton since the first time I heard him. Can't wait to hear the whooping!