Atlanta guitarist Peg Leg Howell was one of the first Bluesmen ever to make a ‘Race Record‘, and he was also re-discovered in the 60s when he recorded again. Joshua Barnes Howell of Eatonton GA lost a leg in an argument with a shotgun toting brother-in-law, and he turned to music when he found it hard to find work as a field hand. Playing and singing on the streets of Atlanta, Peg Leg spent some time in jail for bootlegging. When Columbia sent their field unit to Atlanta in 1926, they were pleased to bump into Peg Leg, and his ‘New Prison Blues’ was their first country Blues record. Guitarist Henry Williams and fiddle player Eddie Anthony would play on street corners with Peg Leg, and they often backed him on his records over the next few years.
The economic depression hit record sales after 1930, so Peg Leg and his band returned to their lives as a street singers. Williams was sent to jail for life and Anthony died in 1934 so, after serving more jail-time for bootlegging, Peg Leg gradually faded from the Atlanta scene. It was noted that he had his other leg amputated in 1952 as a result of diabetes. In 1963, Atlanta music historian George Mitchell located Peg Leg, and he arranged recording sessions in April of that year. The results released on the Testament label were not spectacular, as Peg Leg was 75 years old and in poor health, but they provide a good quality recording of a most original player before he passed away in 1966.