American blues musician. Born as James Arnold in Lovejoy's Station, Georgia, he got 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 city of Kokomo, Indiana. A left-handed slide guitarist, he had an intense slide style of playing and rapid-fire vocal style that set him apart from his contemporaries.
Having learned the basics of the guitar from his cousin, John Wiggs, 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, Pennsylvania. In 1929 he moved to Chicago and set up a bootlegging business, an activity he continued throughout Prohibition. In 1930 Arnold moved south briefly, and made his first recordings, "Rainy Night Blues" and "Paddlin' Madeline Blues", under the name Gitfiddle Jim for the Victor label in Memphis. He soon moved back to Chicago, although he was forced to make a living as a musician after Prohibition ended in 1933. Kansas Joe McCoy heard him and introduced him to Mayo Williams who was producing records for Decca.
Other notable songs include his 1934 recording of the "Sissy Man Blues" with its openly bisexual lyrics, including the line, "Lord, if you can't send me no woman, please send me some sissy man." This piece went on to also be recorded by other blues musicians of the era including Josh White (Pinewood Tom), George Noble and Connie McLean's Rhythm Kings.
In 1938 Arnold left the music industry 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.
He died of a heart attack in Chicago, aged 67, in 1968, and was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.