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I'm a leftover from the sixties. Like someday you'll be a leftover from the nineties - Larry Johnson, to David JacobsStrain, Port Townsend 98

Author Topic: I'M PEG LEG HOWELL  (Read 1157 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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« on: December 21, 2010, 11:42:26 AM »

"My friends call me Peg ... Peg Leg Howell. was born on the fifth of March, in 1888. I was born in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia. I am 75 years old .... My father was a farmer. When I was a child I went to school in Putnam County; I went as far as the ninth grade before I stopped. After that I worked on my father's farm with him ... plowed. Worked on a farm until 1916, when I was about 28.

Then I worked at a fertilizer plant in Madison ,Ga., on the Georgia road to Augusta. I had lost my leg in 1916 and had quit farm work. I got shot by my brother-in- law; he got mad at me and shot me. That's how I lost my leg. I worked at the fertilizer plant for a year. After that I didn't do much, just messed around town (Eatonton). I came to Atlanta when I was about 35 years old. I just got tired of living in a small town. I didn't do much of anything when I came to Atlanta either.

I learned how to play the guitar about 1909. I learnt myself - didn't take long to learn. I just stayed up one night and learnt myself.

The men from Columbia records found me there in Atlanta. A Mr. Brown - he worked for Columbia - he asked me to make a record for them. I was out serenading, playing on Decatur Street and he heard me playing and taken me up to his office and I played there. He first heard me playing out on the street. This was around 1927 I think, but it could have been earlier. (The actual recording date was Nov. 8th 1926, when "Coal man blues", "Tishamingo blues", "New prison blues" and "Fo day blues" were recorded.

When they first asked me to record I was with another fellow, boy called Eugene   he's dead now   Eugene Pedin. He played mandolin. He didn't play on my first records; I was by myself. He never recorded   with me or by himself, as far as I know.

My first record was "New Prison blues" (coupled with "Fo day blues" on Columbia 14177D). In 1925 I had been in prison for selling whisky and I heard the song there. I don't knowwho made it up. As for selling the whisky, I would sell it to anybody who came to the house. I bought the moonshine from people who ran it and I sold it. I don't know how they caught me; they just ran down on me one day.

I got paid fifty dollars for my first record. And I got royalties too   they came in twice a year. After the record came out, I used to sing different places around Atlanta, different places where I went. I mostly played along the streets.

Eddie Anthony recorded with me. He played violin. And Henry Williams; he played guitar. We called the group Peg Leg Howell and His Gang. Made quite a few records with them too. Put out the "New Jelly Roll blues" and "Too Light". (Beaver slide rag, Papa Stobb bI Moaning and groaning bl., Hobo bl., and Beg Leg Stomp were the other selections the trio recorded at two sessions in 1927, April 8th and Nov. 7th. At the first session Howell also recorded a solo, Sadie Lee blues, and two more solo performances, Doin' wrong and Skin Game blues, followed later in the year, on November 9th.)

The Jelly Roll blues   I heard a fellow named Elijah Lawrence singing it. He didn't make records; I heard him singing it in the country. I learned many of my songs round the country. I picked them up from anybody   no special person. Mostly they (the people in the country around Atlanta) just sang, did not play anything.

Some of the songs I made up. "Too tight" was one; "Rocks and gravel" was another. That's really about the blues, that "Rocks and gravel". Just made 'em up and played 'em. "Coal Man blues"   wrote that too. "Skin Game blues"  that's about gambling. Skin game is a card game.

After my last record, I just stopped recording. Didn't make no more. After I stopped recording, I just played around town. I went back to selling liquor. Then I ran a woodyard for about two years around 1940. I lost my other leg in 1952. Through sugar diabetes.

Through the years I have lived all over the city, moved all over. I haven't done much playing over the years until recently. After Eddie Anthony died, I just didn't feel like playing any more. Not till now. Peter J. Welding
(Blues Unlimited 10, March 1964, p.7)

Offline uncle bud

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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 12:10:45 PM »
Thanks for that, BH. I scoured my hard drive to make sure I didn't have it already, and can't find anything!  :P

Offline frankie

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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 02:15:25 PM »
Thanks for posting, BH.  It's wonderful to be able to read this...  can't help wishing he had positively identified the fiddler on "Rolling Mill Blues"

Offline oddenda

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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 03:42:49 PM »
May have been Ollie or Hollis Brown.


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