A lifelong Mississippian, he was born January 10, , in Bolton to a family of local musicians. By his own account, he first started playing the guitar at three. He would start performing along with Patton, Son House, Sloan, and others as the early s came around. Sam Chatmon specialized in a variety of songs of the time keeping him well in-demand for different audiences. Chatmon was a multi-instrumentalist with his specialty being string instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, and banjo.
Sam Chatmon c. He embarked on a new solo career after coming out of musical retirement in the s. Hollandale Blues history dates back at least to the s, when the Mississippi Sheiks, Sam Chatmon, Bo Chatmon aka Bo Carter , Eugene Powell, Robert Nighthawk, and Houston Stackhouse performed at local drug stores, cafes, and other businesses, in addition to jukehouse parties and dances on nearby plantations.
In later years Sam Chatmon moved into town and took a job as a night watchman, while his brother Bo settled in Anguilla. He may have been Charley Patton 's half-brother. Chatmon was born in Bolton , Mississippi, United States. Chatmon's family was well known in Mississippi for their musical talents; he was a member of the family's string band when he was young.
In an interview he stated that he started playing the guitar at the age of three, laying it flat on the floor and crawling under it. The Chatmon band played rags , ballads , and popular dance tunes. Chatmon played the banjo , mandolin and harmonica in addition to the guitar. He performed at parties and on street corners throughout Mississippi for small pay and tips. In the s, he recorded with the Sheiks and also with his brother Lonnie as the Chatman Brothers.
Chatmon moved to Hollandale, Mississippi in the early s and worked on plantations there. In the same year he recorded for Arhoolie Records.