William Bunch, professionally known as, “Peetie Wheatstraw”was born December 21, 1902 in Ripley, Tennessee. Soon after his birth, his family moved to Cotton Plant, Arkansas located in Woodruff county. Peetie Wheatstraw moved to St. Louis, MO in 1929 and became an important part of the St. Louis music scene for the next twelve years. Peetie Wheatstraw wrote and recorded 160 songs for Vocalion, Bluebird and Decca through the thirties. By 1935, Peetie Wheatstraw was the best selling blues artist in America. Peetie’s work was imitated by many, including Robert Johnson. Robert Nighthawk of Helena, also a prominent bluesman, billed himself as “Peetie’s Boy”.
A character in Ralph Ellison’s Ameican classic, The Invisible Man, was named Peetie Wheatstraw. Alan Lomax reports in his book, The Land Where The Blues Began, that one of Peetie’s 78’s was found in Muddy Waters collection in Stovall, Mississippi (Vocalion 3396-“Good Woman Blues”). And Peetie was the subject of Paul Garon’s 1970 book, The Devil’s Son-In-Law, The Story of Peetie Wheatstraw and His Songs. Peetie Wheatstraw died in an automobile accident in East St. Louis on December 21, 1941.