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Kokomo Arnold biography



Kokomo Arnold (February 15, 1901 – November 8, 1968) was an American blues musician. Born James Arnold in Lovejoy's Station, Georgia, Arnold received his nickname in 1934 after releasing "Old Original Kokomo Blues" for the Decca label; it was a cover of the Scrapper Blackwell 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. Career Having learned the basics of the guitar from his cousin, John Wiggs, From his first recording for Decca on September 10, 1934 until his last on May 12, 1938, Arnold made eighty-eight sides, seven of which remain lost. He, Peetie Wheatstraw and Bumble Bee Slim were dominant figures in Chicago blues circles of that time. Peetie Wheatstraw & Arnold in particular were also major influences upon musical contemporary seminal delta blues artist Robert Johnson and thus modern music as a whole. Johnson turned "Old Original Kokomo Blues" into "Sweet Home Chicago", "Milk Cow Blues" into "Milkcow's Calf Blues", while another Arnold song, "Sagefield Woman Blues", introduced the terminology "dust my broom", which Johnson used as a song title himself. Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues" was covered by Elvis Presley (as "Milk Cow Blues Boogie") at the Sun Studios produced by Sam Phillips and was issued as one of his early singles, it was later performed by Tyler Hilton who played Elvis in the 2005 film Walk the Line. Aerosmith covered "Milk Cow Blues" on their 1977 album Draw the Line, Dead Moon covered it on their 1990 album Defiance, George Strait on his 1991 album Chill of an Early Fall and Willie Nelson on the 2000 album Milk Cow Blues. In 1938 Arnold left the music industry and began to work in a Chicago factory. He died of a heart attack in Chicago at the age of sixty-seven in 1968, and was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.