He began a working association with Eddie Boyd in the early 1950s and, in 1952, McKinley and Cotton backed Boyd on the latter's recording of "Five Long Years". It reached number one on the US Billboard R&B chart. McKinley also undertook recording sessions with several of Chicago's better known blues musicians, including Curtis Jones. In 1953 he recorded for Parrot Records, although his work was not released. He signed to States Records in January 1954, who issued his "Companion Blues" later that year.
In 1955, McKinley penned a recording contract with Vee-Jay Records. His single "Strange Girl" / "She's Five Feet Three" was issued by them the same year. Other tracks he recorded in that period, but were unissued at that time, included "Blue Evening", "Down With It", "Rosalie Blues", "Disgusted", and "Tortured Blues". In 1959, Bea & Baby Records released his single "Nit Wit".
McKinley made his last recordings in 1964, and they were released on the Sunnyland label in the UK. After leaving the music industry, he latterly worked as a presser for a dry cleaning outfit in East Chicago, Indiana.
McKinley died in East Chicago in January 1970, aged 51.
If you haven't heard Pee Wee Crayton then give him a listen. he's one of the best.