Peg Leg HowellPeg Leg Howell was born on 05/03/1888 in Eatonton, Georgia. His full birth name was Joshua Barnes Howell. When he was 21 years old, he taught himself how to play the guitar. He became proficient at pre-Piedmont fingerpicking and slide guitar techniques. Howell would work on the farm where he grew up until he was shot in a fight and lost his leg. He then became a full-time musician.
In 1923, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia and began to play on street corners. He would also serve time in prison for bootlegging liquor.
In 1926, Howell was spotted playing on the streets of Atlanta and was asked to record for Columbia Records. He released the song "New Prison Blues" with Columbia, which he had written in prison. It was the first country blues song to be issued by Columbia Records. Columbia would continue to record with him over the next three years. He would often be accompanied by Henry Williams on guitar and Eddie Anthony on fiddle. The recordings were a mixture of ballads, ragtime, jazz and blues.
Howell would continue to play in Atlanta for several years and he would go back to selling bootleg liquor again. By the late 1930s, he would only perform occasionally.
In 1952, he had his left leg removed as a result of complications from diabetes and was confined to a wheelchair.
In 1959, the album "The Country Blues" was released that featured one of Howell's recordings.
In 1963, he was discovered to be in dire poverty when he was found by folklorist and field researcher George Mitchell and Roger Brown. They recorded Howell and the recordings were released by Testament Records.
In 1966, Howel died in Atlanta.