Jamaica ginger extract, commonly referred to as "Jake," was a late 19th-century patent medicine that provided a convenient way to obtain alcohol during Prohibition, since it contained approximately 70% to 80% ethanol by weight.
It turns out that this concoction caused neurological damage to many of its users. Some victims could walk, but they had no control over the muscles which would normally have enabled them to point their toes upward. They would raise their feet high with the toes flopping downward, which would touch the pavement first followed by their heels. The toe first, heel second pattern made a distinctive "tap-click, tap-click" sound as they walked.
Several blues songs on the subject were recorded in the early 1930s, such as "Jake Walk Papa" by Asa Martin, "Jake Leg Blues" by the Mississippi Sheiks, "Alcohol and Jake Blues" by Tommy Johnson, "Jake Jigga Juke" by Iron Mike Norton, and "Jake Liquor Blues" by Ishman Bracey.
The song that I'm singing, "Got the Jake Leg,Too," was recorded in 1930 in Memphis by the Ray Brothers.
Edited by - Bill Rogers on 06/13/2020 22:08:43
Bill Rogers (Moderator)
Good to see you post again. Nicely done song, and a good brief explanation of the “Jake leg.”
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