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Peetie Wheatstraw
Original name: William Bunch
Birth: Dec. 21, 1902
Ripley
Lauderdale County
Tennessee, USA
Death: Dec. 21, 1941
East Saint Louis
St. Clair County
Illinois, USA

Blues Musician. A leader of the first wave of "urban blues" in the 1930s. Although his only known photograph shows him with a guitar, he was primarily a pianist. His style and persona influenced Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2008. Born William Bunch in Ripley, Tennessee, he was raised in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, where his family worked as sharecroppers. Next to nothing is known of his early life, except that he was an amateur musician from childhood. At the relatively late age of 24 he left home to tour the Deep South as a honky tonk pianist. The release of Indianapolis-based Leroy Carr's hit single "How Long How Long Blues" (1928) started a new craze for "city-style" piano blues and Bunch, sensing an opportunity, headed north. In 1929 he moved to East St. Louis, Illinois, took on the name Peetie Wheatstraw (derived from African-American folklore), and shook up the local club scene with help from a little promotional gimmick. Aware that blues had a reputation among unenlightened souls as the "devil's music", he began claiming kinship with the Prince of Darkness - first through rumor, then by overtly billing himself as the "Devil's Son-In-Law" and the "High Sheriff of Hell". The bravado was backed by the macho swagger of his lyrics, sung in a forceful baritone voice punctuated by his trademark falsetto cries of "Oh, well well!" Peetie Wheatstraw's notoriety soon leaped across the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri and from there to the ears of record executives in Chicago. From 1930 he recorded more than 175 songs for the ARC, Vocalion, Decca, and Bluebird labels, accompanied by ace guitarists Lonnie Johnson, Kokomo Arnold, Charley Jordan, and Bumble Bee Slim. Popular demand was such that after 1934 he had a new disc out almost every month. The best of them include "Devil's Son-in-Law", "All Night Long Blues", "Shack Bully Stomp", "Whiskey Head Blues", "Police Station Blues", "You Can't Stop Me from Drinking", "Tennessee Peaches Blues", "Peetie Wheatstraw Stomp", and "Throw Me in the Alley". With an image to maintain he would pepper his verse with the occasional demonic reference, though he clearly preferred singing about booze, loose women, the effects of the Depression, rowdiness, and most of all, himself. The late recordings show him moving closer to jazz. On the night of December 21, 1941, while celebrating his 39th birthday, Wheatstraw went out with a couple of friends to buy more liquor. On the way back their car failed to negotiate a turn and crashed into a stationary freight train, killing all three. Wheatstraw's body was shipped to Arkansas for burial, though his grave remained unmarked until 2011. Comedian Rudy Ray Moore ("Dolemite") borrowed the musician's stage name and myth for his blaxploitation film "Petey Wheatstraw, The Devil's Son-In-Law" (1977). (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Burial:
Crowder Cemetery
Woodruff County
Arkansas, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Darlene Williams
Record added: Mar 10, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 106474420
Peetie Wheatstraw
Added by: Anonymous
 
Peetie Wheatstraw
Added by: Darlene Williams
 
Peetie Wheatstraw
Added by: Darlene Williams
 
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-Anonymous
 Added: Jan. 4, 2014
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