Personalities | Kokomo Arnold | Thirties | Jazz & Blues

(Guitar, vocals, 1901–68)

Born and raised in Georgia, James Arnold was taught to play guitar by his cousin. He moved to Buffalo, New York in his late teens and to Chicago in 1929. He worked outside music, making bootleg whiskey, but also played occasional jobs. He first recorded for Victor in 1930 as Gitfiddle Jim and was signed to Decca in September 1934, scoring an instant hit with ‘Milk Cow Blues’/‘Old Original Kokomo Blues’. The former was a song covered by artists as diverse as Bob Wills, Elvis Presley and George Strait, while the flip side – written about a brand of coffee – provided Arnold with a lifelong nickname.

A left-handed, bottleneck stylist who had 76 sides issued on Decca, Arnold recorded for the last time in 1938. He mainly worked outside music after 1940, although he did play some Chicago dates during the folk music revival of the early 1960s.

Styles & Forms | Thirties | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Billy Banks | Thirties | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.