The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Peetie Wheatstraw

William Bunch, b. December 21, 1902 in Ripley, TN, d. December 21, 1941 in East St. Louis, IL. Wheatstraw, also known as the Devil’s Son-In-Law and the High Sherrif Of Hell, was an influential and popular blues artist of the 20s and 30s. His claim that he had sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads was echoed in the legend that grew around the more revered Robert Johnson, and in fact Johnson drew heavily from Wheatstraw’s repertoire when he began recording in the mid-30s. Wheatstaw also opened a club with ‘Big’ Joe Williams in 1929. An accomplished pianist, guitarist and singer, he was tragically killed in a car accident at a comparatively young age. Throughout his recordings, usually with Vocalion Records or Decca Records, he was accompanied by musicians such as James ‘Kokomo’ Arnold, Lonnie Johnson and Lillian Armstrong. Although Wheatstraw recorded many tracks, it was only in the mid-90s that his work began to be reissued, giving fuel to the argument that his importance and influence had waned.