Kokomo Arnold (1901-1968)
A Real Bootlegger
Born James Arnold in Lovejoy's Station, Georgia, on February 15, 1901, Kokomo
Arnold received his nickname in 1934 after releasing Old Original Kokomo
Blues for the Decca label; it was a cover of the
blues song about the "Kokomo" brand of coffee. A left-handed
slide-guitarist, his intense slide style of playing and rapid-fire vocal style
set him apart from his contemporaries. Having learned the basics of the guitar
from his cousin
Kokomo Arnold began playing in the early 1920s as a sideline while he worked
as a farmhand in Buffalo, New York, and as a steelworker in Pittsburgh. In
1929 he moved to Chicago and set up a bootlegging business, an activity he
continued throughout Prohibition. In 1930 Kokomo Arnold moved south briefly,
and made his first recordings, Rainy Night Blues and Paddlin'
Blues, under the name Gitfiddle Jim for the Victor label in
Memphis, Tennessee. Kokomo Arnold soon moved back to the bootlegging center of
Chicago, though he was forced to make as living as a musician after the
ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution
ending Prohibition in 1933. From his first recording for Decca on 10 September
1934 until his last on 12 May 1938, Arnold made eighty-eight sides, seven of
which remain lost. Along with
Peetie Wheatstraw and
he was a dominant figure in Chicago blues circles. His major influence upon
modern music is, along with
upon the seminal Delta blues artist
a musical contemporary.
turned Old Original Kokomo Blues into Sweet Home Chicago, while
another Kokomo Arnold song, Milk Cow Blues, became Milkcow Blues
Boogie, performed by Elvis Presley. In 1938 Kokomo Arnold left the music
business and began to work in a Chicago factory. Rediscovered by blues
researchers in 1962, he showed no enthusiasm for returning to music to take
advantage of the new explosion of interest in the blues among young white
audiences. On November 8, 1968, Kokomo Arnold died of a heart attack in
Chicago at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in
Alsip, Illinois. (quoted from
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Visit also these related Sites:
Biographical Information on Kokomo Arnold
Kokomo Arnold biography by Uncle Dave Lewis.
Kokomo Arnold biography at wikipedia.org.
Kokomo Arnold biography at aaregistry.com.
Kokomo Arnold biography at joski56.blogspot.com.
Various Articles on Kokomo Arnold
Article by Max Haymes.
Kokomo Arnold Lyrics
Lyrics of Kokomo Arnold's Sissy Man Blues, compared with other
versions of Sissy Man Blues by Josh White (Pinewood Tom), George
Noble, and Connie McLean's Rhythm Kings; including audio files.
Lyrics of Kokomo Arnold's Milk Cow Blues.
Lyrics of Kokomo Arnold's Old Black Cat Blues (Jinx Blues).
Kokomo Arnold Discographies
James 'Kokomo' Arnold discography on wirz.de.
Kokomo Arnold Audio Files
Kokomo Arnold - Milk Cow Blues. MP3 file, runtime 03:11.
Kokomo Arnold - Monday Morning Blues. MP3 file, runtime 03:04.
Kokomo Arnold - Busy bootin'. MP3 file, runtime 02:29.
Kokomo Arnold - The Mule Laid Down and Died. MP3 file, runtime 02:55.
Kokomo Arnold - Your Ways and Actions. MP3 file, runtime 02:47.
Kokomo Arnold - Set Down Gal. MP3 file, runtime 02:43.
Kokomo Arnold - Paddlin' Blues. MP3 file, runtime 03:20.
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