The 77-year-old Samson died in a Quebec City hospital on Tuesday.
Samson was born in 1935 in the Quebec town of Shawinigan, just a stone's throw away from former prime minister Jean Chretien's birthplace.
It was Chretien who recruited Samson in the 1980 referendum campaign partly because of his colourful and direct oratory.
Samson ran unsuccessfully for the Credit social in the 1963 and 1965 federal elections and was then defeated in the 1966 Quebec election under the banner of another fledgling party.
He went on to found the Ralliement creditiste du Quebec in 1970 and led the upstart populist party to 12 seats barely a month later in the provincial election that saw Robert Bourassa first become premier.
Samson lost as a Quebec Liberal candidate in the 1981 provincial election, became a radio host and then failed to become an MP for the federal Liberals in 1993.