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Moonshine Man Blues
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This record was made by Peter Clayton in Chicago on July 1st 1941 accompanied by Blind John Davis (piano), Robert Lockwood (guitar), and unknown (string bass).
Peter Joe Clayton was born April 19, 1898 in Georgia, by most reports, although it has been claimed he was born in Africa and moved to St. Louis with his parents. In St. Louis he married and had four children and was employed as a factory worker. It was there that he started his singing career (he could also play piano and ukelele, though he never did so on record). Clayton recorded six sides for Bluebird Records in 1935, but only two were ever issued. Tragedy struck when Clayton's wife and children died in a house fire in 1937; following this Clayton became an alcoholic and began wearing outsized hats and glasses developing a pattern of drinking and living recklessly that would continue for the rest of his life. Moving to Chicago with Robert Lockwood, 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. In his book "Big Bill Blues" Big Bill Broonzy reminisced about Clayton with obvious fondness: "Doctor Clayton was a good hearted boy. He wouldn't get a room, he wore tennis shoes in winter time and slept on pool tables and in alleys and basements, anywhere he could, because all the money he made from singing he would drink it up, or lose it in some kind of game.
Among the songs he 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 under the name "The Woman I Love" in 1968. He recorded again in 1946, recording 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.
Clayton died of tuberculosis in January 1947, in Chicago, shortly after his second recording session. Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red attended his funeral.
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