Tox Tunes #102: Jake Leg Blues (The Mississippi Sheiks, 1930)

September 28, 2015, 1:58 am


“Jake Leg Blues”  by the Mississippi Sheiks is another song form the 1930s that describes the ravages wrought by Jamaica Ginger extract, an alcohol-containing patent medicine that was deliberately contaminated with the organophosphate compound tricresyl phosphate (TOCP) during prohibition. For a more complete description of this tragic episode of mass poisoning, and for references, see our previous post.

“Limber leg” refers both to the leg weakness and foot drop caused by TOCP, and also to the impotence that affected many victims.

The blog Vernacular:Shellac has a great post about Jake Leg, with wonderful illustrations.

The Mississippi Sheiks were a bawdy country blues band that recorded during the 1930s. Their biggest recording was “Sitting On Top of the World’:

Related post:

Tox Tunes #101: Alcohol and Jake Blues (Tommy Johnson, 1930)

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