'Doctor' PETER





Peter Clayton lived in St Louis from a very early age and spent his youth there, marrying, and working as a factory worker and part time musician. He claimed to have been born in Africa although some sources cite that he was born in Georgia in 1898. There are some references to his original surname having been Cleighton. Although a proficient piano player, it was as a singer and composer that he made his mark. He was a very colourful performer often wearing a variety of hats and distinctive white-framed spectacles and it is said that his style and vocal antics heavily influenced Screaming Jay Hawkins. For a while whilst on tour Clayton used to travel in a bus with an image of his face painted on the side. He recorded his first session for the Vocalion label in Chicago, using the name Jesse Clayton, issuing "Neckbone Blues" and "Station House Blues", and accompanied by Tampa Red. The Depression then interrupted his recording career for five years, his next recordings being five tracks for the Bluebird label. In 1937 tragedy struck Clayton when he lost his wife and four children in a house fire. He continued to perform and record for a further ten years, periodically working with Robert Lockwood Jr., but became increasingly morose and began drinking heavily. He died in 1947, possibly of pneumonia or tuberculosis, but in either case, his decline was certainly exacerbated by his alcoholism.