Peg Leg Sam (December 18, 1911 – October 27, 1977) was an American country blues harmonicist, singer and comedian. He recorded "Fox Chase" and "John Henry", and worked in medicine shows. He gained his nickname following an accident whilst hoboing in 1930.
Born Arthur Jackson in Jonesville, South Carolina, United States, to David Jackson, a farmer and native of Virginia, and Emma Jackson, Arthur was the fourth of six children. His fraternal great-grandmother, Racheal Williams, was born 1810 in Colonial Virginia, and was commonly referred to as a mulatto. She may have had a Caucasian mother or father, most likely, a caucasian father, as this would have been typical for the time period.
Peg Leg Sam taught himself to play harmonica as a small child but resented school, left home at the age of 12, and never stopped roving. He shined shoes, acted as a house boy, cooked on ships, hoboed, then made a living busking on street corners. He lost his leg trying to hop a train but made a peg out of a fencepost, bound it to his stub with a leather belt and kept moving.
His ability to play two harmonicas at once (while one went in and out of his mouth) made him an attraction and he went on to perform in patent-medicine shows. He could also play notes on his harmonica with his nose. Peg Leg Sam went on to marry Theo S. Jackson, who was 18 years older than him, and the mother of Herbert Miller and Katherine Miller, both natives of Tennessee. Peg Leg Sam gave his last medicine-show performance in 1972 in North Carolina, but continued to appear at music festivals in his final years.
He died in Jonesville in October 1977, at the age of 65.
A biography of Peg Leg Sam, Born for Hard Luck was released by Tom Davenport in 1976. An excerpt of the documentary appears in the French film, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain.
Medicine Show Man
Early in the Morning (featuring Louisiana Red)
Joshua (also featuring Louisiana Red)