Philadelphia based artist who had a long career spanning the late 1940’s through the early 1960’s without ever breaking through commercially, either as a solo artist or in a group setting despite being a credible vocalist and a brilliant guitarist. Historically his greatest claim to fame is as the songwriter of one of rock music’s first universal anthems.

Signed to Gotham Records in 1949 Crafton was among the first notable rock guitar players yet his releases with ahead of their time fretwork drew little acclaim or sales. He wrote label mate Jimmy Preston’s immortal “Rock The Joint” which did become a hit in the summer of ’49 and three years later was done by another Pennsylvania artist Bill Haley as one of his first efforts as a rocker after making the switch from a country yodeler.

Crafton was on the move himself by that time, recording for ever smaller labels along the Eastern seaboard with his group The Craftones featuring female vocalist Agnes Riley on some racy material. In 1954 the group with singer Melvin Smith became the Nite Riders who had some stellar releases over the next nine years on a handful of notable labels but which also failed to find an audience.

After they folded sometime in the early to mid-1960’s Harry “Fats” Crafton faded into oblivion, his tangible legacy reduced to the writing credits for a song he himself didn’t even record.

HARRY CRAFTON DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Gotham 195; August, 1949)
First chance for Crafton to shine on guitar, which he does for the most part, but the arrangement isn’t diverse enough to give him a breather and the saxophone entrusted to carry the rest of the load lets him down with woefully underpowered blowing. (4)

(Gotham 196; September, 1949)
Engaging effort shows Crafton to be an enthusiastic vocalist who clearly understands the requirements of delivering a solid rocker, on which he’s aided by some rousing sax work by Joe Sewell, though his own guitar remains curiously muted. (7)

(Gotham 211; December, 1949)
A good record with a misleading title that cost it any chance at a hit, as this is a comically downbeat Christmas record with an assertive non-holiday title, but it’s oddly charming all the same and features Crafton’s best vocal performance. (6)

(Gotham 211; December, 1949)
A song with no real ambition and no attempt to use it to really define Crafton as an artist which makes it a wasted opportunity for someone who can’t afford that… a nondescript record that could’ve been done by anyone without a listener noticing the difference. (3)

(Gotham 227, April, 1950)
Lethargic reworking of an eight year old Louis Jordan song manages to speed up the pace slightly and reconfigure the lyrics some, but the vocal performance is flat and there’s absolutely no musical punch to be found, making this a mostly irrelevant throwaway track. (2)