Published on March 5th, 2012 | by TLV News0
Black Oak Arkansas LIVE at Rooster’s SAT 3/10
Black Oak Arkansas is an American Southern rock band from the town of the same name. 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.
The group, originally called The Knowbody Else, was formed in 1965 in Black Oak, Arkansas, by Ronnie “Chicky Hawk” Smith (vocals), Rickie Reynolds (guitar), Stanley Knight (guitar), Harvey Jett (guitar), Pat Daugherty (bass), and Wayne Evans (drums).
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.
After several trips to L.A. in 1970, the band was signed by Atco Records (whose parent label Atlantic Records once had a partnership with Stax) and were rechristened “Black Oak Arkansas.” Their self-titled debut album Black Oak Arkansas was released in 1971 while the band toured extensively, gaining a reputation as a live act.
In 1973, Black Oak Arkansas released their fourth album Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live. But it was their fifth album, High on the Hog, released later that year, that established solid commercial success by peaking at number 52 on the Billboard albums chart. Vocalist Ruby Starr also toured with the band during this period. 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.
Released in 1984, Ready, as Hell debuted a heavier sound with pinch harmonics and keyboards featured throughout. The album also marked the return of Rickie Lee Reynolds on rhythm guitar. 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.” Despite that lack of subtlety, the album is regarded by many as the finest of the band’s long career, with arguably the most talented lineup to date. Still, it made no commercial headway.
James Mangrum has continued recording and touring with a series of different Black Oak lineups, up to present day. Black Oak Arkansas currently enjoys a loyal fan following. Jim Dandy is credited with inspiring Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth‘s image and onstage persona as well.