In the year 1963, some high school pals decided to get together to form a group because of their love of music. After 43 years, several dozen albums… three of which became gold, one of which became platinum, and one gold single from a song known as "Jim Dandy To The Rescue," which was told to them to record by none other than Elvis Presley himself (!), this group of friends still manages to stay together. (After talking to Elvis, Black Oak Arkansas was told the following week by their producer Tom Dowd and by their label president Ahmet Ertegun that these two industry giants were also about to ask BOA about recording that same tune! Ahmet himself only personally signed 5 groups to recording contracts in his long, long recording history… and Black Oak Arkansas had the honor of being number 5!) Many testimonials and awards have been presented to this band by everyone from Bill Graham, (who founded and ran Winterland Ballroom and both the Fillmore East and West), to Wolfman Jack from the Midnight Special; from First Lady Betty Ford to President Bill Clinton!
With an original homespun musical flavor, Black Oak Arkansas has been presenting their music and their life to the worlds’ public now for almost half of a century, and with a still active touring and recording schedule… there is presently no end in sight! June of 2007 found them performing at the Sweden Rock Festival along with Aerosmith, Scorpions, Motorhead, REO Speedwagon and many more! In 2012 BOA were in Brazil playing for more than 4 millions people. You can also find them this year in the studio working on their newest planned release entitled "Memphis Mean Tymes," and continuing to book concerts through the 21st century touring season.
Jim "Dandy" Mangrum, the blond dynamo of the center stage, has been the lead singer and front man for BOA since their conception in junior high school with guitarist Rickie Lee Reynolds. Jim has been heard to say that one of his proudest moments was when Johnnie Carson asked Mick Jagger on the Tonight Show that of all of the new and up-coming groups… "Who was his favorite Front man?" Mick quickly said, "Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas!’ On the first U.S. tour, Bad Company was a special guest on a tour of the BOA boys, and David Coverdale was known to have given the same response. Once at a birthday party in New York for Ahmet Ertegun, none other than Mr. John Lennon came over to personally meet Jim Dandy… put his hand on Jims’ shoulder… and told Jim that he thought Jim was "ahead of his time!"
Jim has been said to be the role model for famous singers in bands such as Guns and Roses, Van Halen, Motley Crue and many more. In 2004, Jim was elected by Classic Rock magazine as being number #36 in the top 100 front men of all time! His live-show antics and verbal fire snatching on stage, along with his unusual vocal style and instrument of choice, the scruboard, have made him into the Rock and Roll legend that he is today.
Along with Jim Dandy, BOA these days consists of Rickie Lee Reynolds on guitar, (lifetime pal and original founding member of Black Oak Arkansas), Johnnie Bolin on drums… an incredible drummer with the longest BOA stage-life in history…(and whose brother was Tommy Bolin, legendary guitarist with several great albums of his own… and also of James Gang and Deep Purple fame before his tragic death in 1976), George Hughen on bass, (Long-time Arkansas friend of the Black Oak Arkansas Wild Bunch… who was recruited from another part of the BOA family from Ft. Smith, Arkansas called The Judge Parker Band), and Mr. Hal McCormack on the slammin’ lead guitar, (another long-time friend and guitarist for such bands as Survivor and Tora Tora).
Black Oak Arkansas’ live show has been described as, " They come gallivanting out onto the stage like a bunch of escaped lunatics from a Dogpatch Insane Asylum!" Though many albums have been put out over the years on this bunch of guys, they were always known best for their live shows. On Jim’s 25th Birthday, Bill Graham presented them with an award for playing 320 one-nighters in one year! (That night, BOA legend has it that the BOA road crew wanted to get Jim Dandy 25 girls so that he could "run the line!" But luckily, the road crew only found 16!) Wolfman Jack called them the hardest working band in Rock and Roll history! There was never a middle ground for Black Oak Arkansas… you either loved ‘em or ya hated ‘em!
In their long musical history, the BOA boys have shared a stage with the likes of James Gang, Kiss, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Bob Segar, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Black Sabbath, Foghat, Bad Company, Bruce Springstein, Boston, Iron Butterfly, Grand Funk Railroad, B.B. King, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, The Outlaws, Deep Purple, 38 Special, Marshall Tucker, Buddy Miles, Billy Preston, Jerry Lee Lewis, BTO, Robin Trower, Humble Pie, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Eagles, Blackfoot, Credence Clearwater, Johnnie Winter, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Stepphenwolf, Allman Bros., The Doobie Brothers, Z Z Top, Chuck Berry, Lynard Skynard, Charlie Daniels, James Brown, Steely Dan, J. Geils Band, Cheech and Chong, Steve Martin, Danny Thomas, Evil Kenevil, and the list goes on and on and on! Warner Bros. has released a DVD on the early years of the band, and recently charged forth with a release of a Black Oak Arkansas DVD live at Royal Albert Hall in London. BOA has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities in their career, and the governor of the State of Arkansas even declared a "Black Oak Arkansas Day" on October 6th. There is now a permanent display in the Arkansas State Museum and the Barton Coliseum in Little Rock dedicated to the band.
In the plans, we're also supposed to find Jim Dandy taking his shining personality to the Silver Screen of Hollywood! Along with fellow Arkansas pal Billy Bob Thornton… and the incredible Mr. Robert Duvall, Jim has been given a script to an upcoming movie titled "Life Sentence," in which Jim will be playing a mad-dog killer and given a "life sentence" in prison! Time will tell on the outcome!
Fans of BOA who come to know the band find themselves becoming more like family. Black Oak Arkansas has always been a band for the people… tryin’ to express the feelings of the people they are and the people they meet. This is one of the things that have given them their long lifespan… and the people are the ones who have given it to them.
After having recorded with Atlantic/Atco Records, MCA Records, Capricorn Records, Rhino Records, (who has just released a 2 CD collection of BOA called "The Definitive Rock of Black Oak Arkansas!")… along with having six more "best of" CDs on Capitol Records, Warner Brothers Records, and many more… and having no less than 14 compilation CDs with everyone from famous Southern Rockers to Dale Earnhart himself… after having toured every major city and every secondary city in the America, along with several tours of Europe and South America, Black Oak Arkansas has hit the road in 2012-2013 once again, and with any luck at all… you’ll be able to catch these one-of-a-kind legends of Rock and Roll in concert! If ya do, go on down and say hi to ‘em… and you’ll find they’re just regular folks deep down inside. I hope to see you there!