Black Oak Arkansas

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This article is about the band. For the town, see Black Oak, Arkansas.
Black Oak Arkansas
Also known as The Knowbody Else
Origin Black Oak, Arkansas, United States
Genres Southern rock
Years active 1963 (1963)-present
Labels Atlantic/Atco
Website www.blackoakarkansas.net

Black Oak Arkansas is an American Southern rock hillybilly psycho-boogie band named after the band's hometown of Black Oak, Arkansas. The band reached the height of its fame in the 1970s with ten charting albums released in that decade. Their style is punctuated by multiple guitar players and the raspy voice and on-stage antics of vocalist Jim "Dandy" Mangrum.

History[edit]

The Knowbody Else[edit]

Black Oak Arkansas, originally named "The Knowbody Else," was formed in 1963 by some "high school pals" living in the area around Black Oak, Arkansas.[1] Original members included Ronnie "Chicky Hawk" Smith (vocals), Rickie Lee (alternately "Ricochet" or "Risky") Reynolds (guitar), Stanley "Goober Grin" Knight (guitar), Harvey "Burley" Jett (guitar), Pat "Dirty" Daugherty (bass), and Wayne "Squeezebox" Evans (drums). At some point the band and Ronnie "Chicky Hawk" Smith agreed that a mutual friend named James "Jim Dandy" Mangrum would make a better front man, while Smith agreed that he himself would make a better stage production manager.

The band's first PA system was stolen from Monette High School. The group then cleaned out an old galvanized grain bin on the edge of town and began blasting out ear-piercing sounds that echoed their special blend of music that came from rock, gospel, country and blues influences.[2] Members of the group were subsequently charged in absentia with grand larceny and sentenced to 26 years at the Tucker Prison Farm, a sentence that was later suspended. This led to their retreat to the hills of rural north-central Arkansas where they lived off the land and refined their musical style.[3] They also lived in Long Beach, Mississippi and played at the local Lobe theater/dance hall and the short-lived venue, "The Black Rainbow." Some of their influences during this time were the Beatles and the Byrds.

The Knowbody Else moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1969 and signed a record deal with Stax Records. Their self-titled debut album was largely ignored by the public. During this time the band became interested in psychedelia and Eastern spiritualism which, combined with their Southern Baptist upbringing, contributed to their sound.

Black Oak Arkansas[edit]

After several trips to Los Angeles, California, in 1970, the band was signed by Atco Records (whose parent label Atlantic Records once had a partnership with Stax) and rechristened "Black Oak Arkansas". Their self-titled debut album Black Oak Arkansas was released in 1971, and is generally regarded by fans as the band's best. The record featured enduring BOA classics like "Hot And Nasty", "Lord Have Mercy On My Soul", "Uncle Lijiah" (written in pseudo-tribute to Harvey Jett's real-life great uncle) and "When Electricity Came To Arkansas", which the band was accused by fundamentalist religious groups of containing backward-masked "Satanic messages" (from a live performance of the song from the album raunch and roll in which Mangrum utters a series of words in the middle of the song that become satan he is god when played backwards). The band toured extensively, gaining a reputation as a premier live act throughout the early '70s all across America, and later even in Europe. Keep the Faith followed in 1972, featuring the manic concert staple "Fever In My Mind". Drummer Wayne Evans left the band and was replaced by journeyman skinsman Tommy Aldridge on BOA's next release If an Angel Came to See You, Would You Make Her Feel at Home, which featured another enduring BOA concert favorite, "Mutants Of The Monster" and expanded on the group’s eclectic musical style.

In 1973, Black Oak Arkansas released their fourth LP Raunch 'N' Roll Live, and took the rather unorthodox tack of including previously unreleased new songs on their first live concert album like "Gigolo", "Gettin' Kinda Cocky", as well as two more BOA classics: "Hot Rod", which features Dandy's sly double-entendre lyrics, and "Up", which spotlights Aldridge's marathon drum solo, a portion of which he played with his bare hands. The four new songs were originally recorded and intended to be included on the follow-up studio album to If an Angel Came to See You..., but when Atco Records realized the band's true strong suit was their concert act, the live album resulted. Raunch 'N' Roll Live was re-issued in 2007 by Rhino Records as a 2-CD set containing both concerts that the original vinyl album was culled from. The band's fifth album, High on the Hog, also released in '73, ended up being the high point of BOA's career, peaking at number 52 on the Billboard albums chart. Vocalist Ruby Starr (future vocalist Grey Ghost) also toured intermittently with Black Oak during this period, and her raspy voice can be heard on the group's remake of LaVern Baker's 1957 hit "Jim Dandy," which reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Baker's song was recorded by at the suggestion of Elvis Presley, when he invited them to Graceland.[4] 'Hog' also included perennial favorite "Happy Hooker" and the instrumental "Moonshine Sonata", as well as edgier songs like "Red Hot Lovin'" and "Mad Man".

The band was riding high on the concert trail as well by this time, headlining large venues like Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium and Charlotte Motor Speedway, and even Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Black Oak Arkansas also played at the famous California Jam festival in Ontario, California on April 6, 1974. The massive concert attracted over 200,000 fans, and BOA appeared alongside 1970s rock giants Black Sabbath, the Eagles, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Deep Purple, Earth, Wind & Fire, Seals and Crofts and Rare Earth, and portions of the show were telecast on ABC Television in the US, exposing the band to a wider audience.

The follow-up to High On The Hog, 1974's, Street Party (featuring "Son Of A Gun", "Hey Ya'll" and "Dixie", as well as a cover of the Motown classic "Dancing In The Street"), may have failed to maintain the momentum, but another 1974 release entitled Early Times, a shelved Stax recording by The Knowbody Else (now released on the back of their success and under the BOA banner), made up for lost time. Guitarist Harvey Jett left the band after Street Party and was replaced by "Little" Jimmy Henderson in 1975 and he debuted on the band's final studio album for Atco Records, Ain't Life Grand. Grand included a snarly remake of George Harrison's Beatle classic "Taxman", as well as new originals like "Fancy Nancy", "Rebel", "Good Stuff", "Cryin' Shame" and "Let Life Be Good To You". The band signed a contract with MCA and promptly released X-Rated later in 1975, which marked the beginning of Black Oak Arkansas' decline. In 1976 they released two fairly nondescript and unsuccessful albums for MCA, Balls of Fire and 10 Yr Overnight Success, the latter of which as a five-piece band with the departure of Rickie Reynolds, who was more or less replaced on tour by keyboardist Marius Penczner during this period. Also in '76, Atco released a final BOA contractual obligation album, the poorly-recorded, but high-spirited Live Mutha, recorded on Mother's Day, 1975 in Long Beach, CA.

Black Oak[edit]

Following continued diminishing returns of the band's record sales (yet while still remaining a consistent concert draw), Mangrum dropped "Arkansas" from the group's name (in an attempt to downplay their Southern-ness) and replaced everyone except Henderson and even altering his own vocal style in an attempt to sound more mainstream (and ostensibly impress music critics in the process. The other members of the "Black Oak" lineup were Greg Reding (guitar and keyboards), Jack Holder (guitar), Andy Tanas (bass), and Joel Williams (drums). Black Oak released two albums on the struggling Capricorn Records, Race with the Devil in 1977 and I'd Rather Be Sailing the following year. Neither album sold well. In 1978, guitarist Shawn Lane joined the band at age 14 and toured with the band for four years.

Post-Capricorn[edit]

In the early '80's, Jim Dandy temporarily left the band for health reasons, but Rickie Lee Reynolds kept the band going with former Zorro bassist Jack Brumby, AW Zeugner, and Lester John. Bob Simpson took on lead vocals at first, but was later replaced by Randy Ruff for almost three years, until Mangrum's return. In 1984, the band released Ready as Hell. Though the name "Black Oak Arkansas" was on the album cover, "Jim Dandy" appeared above it in larger type, almost as if it were a solo effort. Ready as Hell featured a heavier sound with pinch harmonics and keyboards featured throughout. The album was also Rickie Lee Reynolds's first recording with Mangrum since the MCA years. In 1986, The Black Attack Is Back continued the heavy style of the previous album and featured the particularly adventurous track "I Want A Woman With Big Titties". Again, "Jim Dandy" received top billing on the album cover (though "BOA"--the band's initials--did appear above the frontman's name). Like its predecessor, Black Attack made no commercial headway. In 1992, the band released Rebound, this time under the band's aegis, with similar results. Things changed little with 1999's The Wild Bunch, which was released under the name "Jim Dandy's Black Oak Arkansas."

James Mangrum has continued recording and touring with a series of different Black Oak lineups, up to the present day. Black Oak Arkansas currently enjoys a loyal fan following. However, the later lineups have yet to duplicate the level of album sales that the original lineup generated in the early-mid 1970s. Jim Dandy is credited with inspiring Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth's image and onstage persona as well. In addition, in the 1980s former Maine State Representative Chris Greeley once 'opened' for them as a member of the rock band Toyz.

Original Black Oak Arkansas guitarist Stanley Knight passed away on February 16, 2013, just four days after his 64th birthday following a brief battle with cancer. Singer Ruby Starr also succumbed to cancer on January 14, 1995.

The return to Atlantic Records[edit]

The band released a new album for Atlantic Records/Atco Records on October 15, 2013 titled "Back Thar N' Over Yonder". The album contains 5 newly recorded songs and 10 previously unreleased 1970's tracks which were produced by Tom Dowd. The new songs feature a line-up of original and current members. Reunited originals Jim "Dandy" Mangrum, Rickie Lee "Risky" Reynolds, Pat "Dirty" Daughtery, and Jimmy "Soybean" Henderson, were joined by current drummer Johnnie Bolin, bassist George Hughen, lead guitarist Hal McCormack and guitarist Buddy Church. The first single off the record "Plugged In And Wired" was released August 26th, 2013. [5] The band is currently touring to support the album.

List of BOA band members[edit]

Harvey Jett - Lead Guitar ?-1974 Jimmy Henderson - Lead Guitar 1974-?

  • James L. Mangrum AKA Jim "Dandy" Mangrum - lead vocals, washboard (1968–early 1980s, 1983-present)
  • Rickie Lee "Risky"/"Ricochet" Reynolds - rhythm guitar, 12-string guitar, vocals (1965–1977, 1984–present)
  • Hal McCormack - lead guitar (2003–present)
  • George Hughen - bass guitar (1985-present) Was with Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost
  • Johnnie Bolin - drums (1988–present)
  • Buddy Church - guitar (1989–1994, ?-present/on call)
  • Harvey "Burley" Jett - lead guitar, banjo, piano, vocals (1965–1974)
  • Stanley "Goober Grin" Knight - lead guitar, steel guitar, organ, vocals (1969–1976) (deceased)
  • Pat "Dirty" Daugherty - bass guitar, vocals (1965–1977, 1996–2002)
  • Wayne "Squeezebox" Evans - drums (1965–1972)
  • Gary "GT" Taylor - drums (1969-1972)
  • Tommy Aldridge - drums (1972–1976) Later joined Pat Travers Band; also played for Gary Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, and Whitesnake, among others.
  • Bobby "T" Torello - drums (1977) Later played drums for Johnny Winter 1977-1983.
  • Abel Ji McKnight - drums (1977–1982)
  • Joel Williams - drums (1977–1978) Later joined Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost
  • Randii Meers - drums (1978–1979)
  • Robert Gregory - guitar (1985)
  • Les John - drums (1979–1980)
  • Chris Craig - drums (1979-1982)
  • Darrell Miller - drums (1970s)
  • Cozy Johnson - drums (early 1980s)
  • Paul Simmons - drums (1985–1986)
  • Victor Lukenbaugh - drums (1989–present/on call) Currently in Judge Parker
  • Johnny "Monk" Courville III - drums (1990-1996)
  • Andy Tanas - bass guitar (1977–1980) Later joined Krokus
  • Dave Wilson - bass guitar (1979–1981)
  • Kinley "Barney" Wolfe - bass guitar (1980-1983)
  • Russ Powell - bass guitar (1982–1983)
  • Larry Pearson - bass guitar, vocals (1989–present/on call) Currently in Judge Parker
  • James "Jimmy"/"Soybean" Henderson - guitar (1975–1979)
  • Jack Holder - guitar (1977–1979)
  • Shawn Lane - guitar (1978–1982) (deceased)
  • Gavin Frisbee - guitar (1978–1980)
  • Dave Amato - guitar (1980) Currently in REO Speedwagon
  • Mick Chelsvig - guitar (1980–1981)
  • Tony Bullard - guitar (1981-1982)
  • Kevin Rees - lead guitar (early 1980s)
  • Angelo Earl - guitar (late 1980s)
  • John Roth - lead guitar (July 1986-October 1987; and about a-year-or-so around 1991) Currently in Winger
  • Arthur Pearson - lead guitar, rhythm guitar (1989–present/on call) Currently in Judge Parker
  • Danny Leath - lead guitar (199?-?)
  • Rocky Athas - lead guitar (1996–2001) Later joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
  • Terry "Slydman" Powers - lead guitar (2000–2004)
  • Marius Penczner - keyboards (1975–1977) Later joined Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost
  • David "Dave" Mayo - piano, bass guitar (1976)
  • Deke Richards - guitar, piano (1977-1978)
  • Greg Reding - guitar, keyboards (1977–1979)
  • Gary D. Rollins - keyboards (1978)
  • Randy Ruff - lead vocals, piano, organ (1980–1982)
  • Ruby Starr - duet vocals, backing vocals (1973–1976) Later started her own band: Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost (deceased)
  • Candice Ivory - backing vocals (currently)
  • Mickey Smith - drum technician (1971–1975)
  • James "Little Jim" Mangrum, Jr. - drum technician (currently)

plus...

  • Steve "The Axe" Nuenmacher - lead guitar, rhythm guitar (Ready As Hell)
  • William Lemuel - bass guitar (Ready As Hell)
  • Jon "J.R."/"Thunder Paws" Wells - drums (Ready As Hell)
  • Billy Batte - keyboards, violin (Ready As Hell)
  • Michael "Narley Dude" Martin - lead guitar (The Black Attack Is Back) (deceased)
  • Biff "The Beast" Bingham - 2nd lead guitar (Ready As Hell, The Black Attack Is Back)
  • Mike Farriss - bass guitar (The Black Attack Is Back)
  • Jerry A. Williams - drums (Ready As Hell, The Black Attack Is Back)

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

The Knowbody Else[edit]

  • The Knowbody Else (Hip Records #7003 [subsidiary of Stax Records], October, 1969; reissued 2008 on Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records)
  • Soldiers of Pure Peace (Arf! Arf! Music, November 13, 2012; demo material originally recorded in 1967)

Black Oak Arkansas[edit]

  • Black Oak Arkansas (Atco Records, March, 1971) US No. 127
  • Keep the Faith (Atco, January, 1972) US No. 103
  • If an Angel Came to See You...Would You Make Her Feel at Home (Atco, June, 1972) US No. 93
  • Raunch 'N' Roll Live (Atco, February, 1973; recorded December 1 & 2, 1972) US No. 90
  • High on the Hog (Atco, October, 1973) US No. 52
  • Early Times (Stax Records, March, 1974; demo material originally recorded in 1968/1969 as The Knowbody Else)
  • Street Party (Atco, July, 1974) US No. 56
  • Ain't Life Grand (Atco, April, 1975) US No. 145
  • X-Rated (MCA Records, September, 1975) US No. 99
  • Live! Mutha (Atco, January, 1976; recorded May 11, 1975) US No. 194
  • Balls of Fire (MCA, May, 1976) US No. 173
  • 10 Yr. Overnight Success (MCA, October, 1976)
  • Rebound (Goldwax Records #5003, 1992)
  • King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: Black Oak Arkansas (King Biscuit Flower Hour Records/BMG, March 10, 1998; recorded November 21, 1976)
  • Live on the King Biscuit Flower Hour (King Biscuit Entertainment/Pinnacle, September 27, 1999; reissue of the KBFH material...all 12 songs)
  • Live (EMI-Capitol Special Markets [subsidiary of Capitol-EMI Records], May 4, 2000; another reissue of the KBFH material minus 2 songs)
  • Keep the Faith: Live Concert Performance (Disky Communications, 2001; yet another reissue of the KBFH material...all 12 songs)
  • Live at Royal Albert Hall (S'More Entertainment, November 25, 2005; recorded 1975)
  • The Complete Raunch 'N' Roll Live (Rhino Handmade Records, 2007) 2CD
  • Black Oak Arkansas...The Knowbody Else '69 (Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records, 2008; reissue of Hip Records #7003)
  • Back Thar N' Over Yonder (Atlantic/Atco Records, October 15, 2013; 5 new songs with 10 previously unreleased studio out-takes from 1972/1973/1974)

Note: all of BOA's original Atco albums have been reissued on CD by Wounded Bird Records in 2000/2001, except High On The Hog, which has been reissued by Rhino Records; also note that in 2013, the first five Atco studio albums (BOA, Keep the Faith, If an Angel Came to See You, High on the Hog, and Street Party) were collected/reissued in a slipcase box set, titled Black Oak Arkansas: Original Album Series [UPC: 081227968373] by Rhino Entertainment.

Jim Dandy (without BOA)[edit]

  • Flash Fearless Versus the Zorg Women, Parts 5 & 6 (Chrysalis Records, 1975) Note: Jim Dandy sings 2 songs..."Country Cooking" and "Blast Off" on this various artists/original studio cast "comic book hero/rock opera" album.

Black Oak[edit]

  • Race with the Devil (Capricorn Records, November, 1977)
  • I'd Rather Be Sailing (Capricorn, June, 1978)

Jim Dandy's Black Oak Arkansas[edit]

  • Ready as Hell (Hacienda Records, 1984)
  • The Black Attack Is Back (Heavy Metal America Records, 1986)
  • The Wild Bunch (Dead Line/Cleopatra Records, November 2, 1999)
  • Top Musicians Play ZZ Top (Sleeping Giant Records, 2010) Note: Jim Dandy's BOA do just one song..."La Grange" on this various artists "tribute" album.

Compilations[edit]

Charted Singles[edit]

  • Jim Dandy (To the Rescue) (Atco, December, 1973; from the High on the Hog album) US No. 25
  • Strong Enough to Be Gentle (MCA, January, 1976; from the X-Rated album) US No. 89

References[edit]

External links[edit]