Black Oak Arkansas

Also known as The Knowbody Else (1963–1970)
Black Oak (1977-c.1984)
Origin Black Oak, Arkansas, United States
Genres Southern rock

Black Oak Arkansas is an American Southern rock 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.

The Knowbody Else

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. 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. 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. 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

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 was accused by fundamentalist religious groups of containing backward-masked “Satanic messages” (possibly from a live performance of the song in which Mangrum utters “dog si eh” and “natas” three times). 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 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, 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.

Black Oak

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.

List of band members

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)
Lance McDaniel – lead guitar (2017-present)
Hal McCormack – lead guitar (2003-2016)
George Hughen – bass guitar (1985–2016)
Johnnie Bolin – drums (1988–present)
Buddy Church – guitar (1989–1994, 2016)deceased 2016
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) [Member of Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost 1974–1975]
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) deceased 2013
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
Jimmy “Soybean” Henderson – guitar (1975–1979) (deceased)
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)
David “Wild Man” Cochran – Bass (2000-2002)

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)
Sammy B. Seauphine -duet vocals, backing vocals, washboard (2013-current) founded her band Dark Epiphany (2006-current) managed by Jim Dandy


The Knowbody Else

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

Black Oak Arkansas (Atco Records, March, 1971) US No. 127 RIAA Gold
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 RIAA Gold
High on the Hog (Atco, September, 1973) US No. 52 RIAA Gold
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)

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

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.


The Best of Black Oak Arkansas (Atco, April, 1977)
Hot & Nasty: The Best of Black Oak Arkansas (Rhino Records, 1992)
The Definitive Rock Collection (Atlantic/Rhino Records, October 17, 2006) 2CD

Charted Singles

“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

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