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An Interview with Jim "Dandy" Mangrum of Black Oak Arkansas

  • An Interview with Jim "Dandy" Mangrum of Black Oak Arkansas
    Posted by Black Oak Arkan...  |  5 months 1 week ago

    Check out this interview that Jim Dandy just did with Hank “Hitman” Hart over at Southern Fried Magazine.

    An Interview with Jim "Dandy" Mangrum of Black Oak Arkansas

    I had the pleasure, and I mean pleasure, of interviewing by phone, a legend in rock n' roll, Jim "Dandy" Mangrum" of Black Oak Arkansas. I found Jim to be entertaining, extremely knowledge of the rock music business and rock history, American history, politics, finance, and an even more diverse array of subjects.  I've cut down the interview a little to focus on the music aspects, but I intend to follow up with Jim once the Southern Fried Tour gets underway.  He was a gentleman, but also the kind of guy you'd like to hang out with for hours whether playing cards, having a beer or two, or just cruising in your car through Memphis, where he currently lives,or better yet, through Black Oak, Arkansas.

     

    Hitman:  Jim, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview.  We here at Southern Fried Magazine are very excited about the upcoming Southern Fried tour with Black Oak Arkansas along with Preacher Stoneand The Young Brothers. The same can be said for Premier Tours and a friend of yours....Greg Stead.

     

    JDM:  Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure, and hello to Greg.

    Hitman:  Black Oak Arkansas has been a name in rock and roll for over forty years, and the band’s roots actually go back to the 60’s with a band known as The Knowbody Else.

    JDM:   What a name! K-N-O-W, ha, ha, ha!

    Hitman:  You came on as the lead singer, replacing Ronnie Smith as production manager?

    JDM:  Yeah Ronnie, he was the road manager, yes, he did that for a while. Ronnie was from Paragould, Arkansas.

    Hitman:  Everybody had a nickname in that band including you, such as, “Chickey Hawk”.

    JDM:  Yeah, Ronnie Smith was “Chickey Hawk”.

     

    Hitman:  And there was “Richochet” (Ricky Lee, guitar) and “Goober Grin” (Stanley Knight, guitar)

     

    JDM: Yes, bless his heart, he (Stanley Knight) just passed away about three or four weeks before we started cutting the new album. A tragedy.

     

    Hitman:  Your nickname, how did you get it, were you called that after the song “Jim Dandy (to the rescue)” originally done by Laverne Baker?

     

    JDM:  Actually, Elvis’ DJ friend George Klein called me and told me The King was going to call me. Elvis did in fact call, and he wanted me to do the song “Jim Dandy”. He asked why I wasn’t doing it already.  Man, I was thinking, there is no way I’m going to say “no” to the king of rock n roll! I was about nine years old when that song came out, and my Daddy called me Jim Dandy.  Elvis told me there is only one King, and it wasn’t him, that the rock n’ roll music being played, or gospel or country music was made for the DJ’s to make money.  What Elvis left me with though, is something that I still keep in me, and that is the music comes through us, not from us…we’re playing for those folks in the house, and we got the best seat!  Man, that stuck with me, because I thought how noble that was of the King of rock n’ roll to tell me that.

     

    Hitman:  Black Oak Arkansas’ version of Jim Dandy became a huge hit.

     

    JDM:  It was number 1 for about 15 weeks in 1973.  It was supposed to be a joke song, like “Titties and Beer” for Frank Zappa.  You know FM radio didn’t start to happen until around then. There was a group of investors and they put this show together “Beaker Street” on the AM station in Little Rock, it was cool, and there was nothing cool about Arkansas at the time.  But “Beaker Street” was sort of the front runner for that type of format before the rise of FM radio stations.  The DJ would play our first album, the one with the map on the cover…with “Hot and Nasty” on it.   So, when “Jim Dandy” came out as a single, it got a lot of airplay.  That station was so powerful it reached all the way to Mexico. Gave people down there the opportunity to hear songs that may not otherwise been heard. Yeah, the DJ, Clyde Clifford, he was cool, had this cool format.  I just talked to him the other day...yeah, it was ahead of its time that show. Nowadays you can’t do that (progressive formats) on FM radio, all that corporate stuff.

      

    Hitman:  How true is the story that the band’s first PA system was stolen from a high school and you were charged in absentia with grand larceny and sentenced to 26 years…a sentence that was later suspended?

      

    JDM:  Yeah, ha!  We got this system and mics from a school...yeah, some of the guys got six years, others got four, but eventually those charges were dropped by the governor after we became this big thing.  You know we had nowhere to rehearse back in those days also...wound up rehearsing in a grain elevator.  And I got thrown out of every public school in Arkansas!  And my hair was long!  Before the Beatles even came out with those haircuts.  My Daddy told me although he didn’t like it, just to keep it clean.  You know in the south at that time, if you had long hair, you were looked down on, and that you were not very manly.  I’d be getting in five fights a week behind the same barn but nobody could knock me out.  After this stuff had gone on for a while, with both me and Rickey getting tossed out of schools all the time, and the fighting, I said to him, “Don’t you know three chords?”...he said he knew four, so I said, “We’re gonna have a band”!!   It was more of a statement than anything. It took us a while before we could do anything.  I mean we didn’t know what we were doing.  We were a garage band without a garage!  You know now we do this stuff on purpose, it’s so much easier, but I’m having fun, and that’s what is important.

      

    Hitman:  Your new album that’s out, “Back Thar and Over Yonder”, tell us a little about it.

      

    JDM:  Oh yeah, and its back on Atlantic/Atco!  There’s five new songs on there, and some unreleased stuff from the seventies that Tom Dowd had produced.

      

    Hitman:  Who are the musicians that are now playing the album on tour?

     

    JDM:  Well Rickie is with me on guitar and Pat “Dirty” Daughtery, and Arthur Pearson who had played in a band Judge Parker, also Buddy Church on guitar, drummer Johnnie Bolin, George Hughen, and Jimmy Henderson.

     

    Hitman:  David Lee Roth claims that you were a major influence on him for his stage persona, who influenced you?  And how much of what you see on stage is you or a persona?

      

    JDM:  Oh man, a lot of cats are claiming they got from me, I don’t know about that.  Sometimes he said he did, sometimes he said he didn’t.  But the saying is “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”   If you watched me, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out.  I mean I came out there playing that scrub board like Chuck Berry playing his guitar. Elvis, he was having more fun than any human being I ever saw.  Man I told my grandmother that’s what I wanted to be, and she said “Who do you think you are”, and I’d say,  “it’s not who I am, but who I’m going to be”…it’s the dream. Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and James Brown.  I mean all those cats were moving on the stage, not standing still…I mean playing to the audience, actually playing through the audience, getting that message out there.  Spreading that rock n’ roll.

      

    Hitman:  I’d like to go back to the song “Jim Dandy” one last time, and ask you about Ruby Starr who helped make that a huge hit with her vocals in that song.  She certainly was a great singer in her own right, and you guys stayed close through the years, yes?

      

    JDM:  Yeah, met her at a show in Evansville, Illinois.  She was with us 3 years, she joined up with us, not because we were a bunch of male musicians, but because she wanted to sing…she was good, I miss her.  She passed away about 23 years ago, at the age of 45 of inoperable brain cancer. We do a song for her every night.

     

    Hitman:  How do you see yourselves, the band, in the southern rock hierarchy along with The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Outlaws?  You were asked to play at Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam in 1979, and that is no small thing.

    JDM:  Well, you know we were right after The Allman Brothers, so to speak, we were the second “southern rock” band.  But we didn’t think of us at a southern rock band. We played everything man, we were a rockin’, boogie band, a touch of gospel, soul, country. Our song “Mutants of the Monster”, some people could call it heavy metal.  Rock n’ roll is the illegitimate son of all that music, we probably did everything but jazz.  If you look at the map of the USA, we are not that southern, compared to where Florida is.  And there are northern cats livin’ in the south, and southern cats livin’ in the north.  We were just hoping God wouldn’t be laughing at us…we just wanted that spontaneity and let nature take its course.

      

    Hitman:  What’s your greatest thrill with the band, a certain concert, or certain night?

      

    JDM:  Wow…I had a lot of them!  Wow…some question, you may think its corny, may not sound to you like such a thrill, but what I am so proud of, I am the only member of Black Oak Arkansas, that actually lived in Black Oak, Arkansas.  Town of 300.  I mean Black Oak is only about 60 miles from Memphis, but it is worlds away as far as the being the same.  Black Oak, everybody knows everybody, just a quiet, in the woods, peaceful area.  Really, I am very proud of that.

      

    Beyond that, I mean I’ve had a lot of thrills.  Played in front of 200,000 people at the California Jam.  Met John Lennon; he was cool, he was more about than just playing music…he was spreading a message and when I met him, he put his hand on my shoulder and told me I was ahead of my time.

      

    This business has given me a lot of thrills, I mean the money, fame, that’s NOT what it’s about.  I’m a performer playing through to people…it’s all about the people, without the people we are nothing.

      

    Hitman:  Yes, in today’s economy, people don’t want to spend money on a band that’s going through the motion.  People don’t have a lot of money to spend on their entertainment, and they want to see a group that gives it their all.

      

    JDM:  Right you are, about money.  People make more money now than they ever have but yet they don’t have enough money to live.  Things are getting tougher for the poor people.  So again its important to me when we play to give them a good show.  Some of the ticket prices some of the groups are charging is crazy.  I mean we did a show with Bruce Springsteen opening for us, and the ticket price was four dollars!

      

    Hitman:  What do you think about today’s music?

      

    JDM:   I like it…if they keep the spirit of rock n roll alive.  I mean I just love what Kid Rock is doing.  He had asked me to play with him, play on his tour, butjust didn’t work at the time.  He told me to come on up where he is and tour with him, make money.  I love the Foo Fighters…and the kid with the two H initials, his name escapes me at the moment.

      

    Hitman:  Hunter Hayes?

      

    JDM:  Yeah, Hunter Hayes, love what he’s doing.

     

    Hitman:  What’s one thing I haven’t asked that you want the readers to know.

      

    JDM:  Again, its about the people.  As I said before about Elvis, saying the music is coming through us, that was the noblest thing Elvis said and it stuck with me.  I am so happy to be doing what I am, its fun, I mean I had a blast on that Rock Legends tour playing with guys like Molly Hatchet.  You know talking to our fans after shows, it was a great time.

      

    Hitman:  One question I ask everybody I interview and that’s if you were stranded on a deserted island with a boom box, a lifetime supply of batteries, but could only have one record, which one would it be?

      

    JDM:  Just one?  Wow…that’s tough…that would be Robbie Robertson’s first CD.  I mean he was so cool, He was sorta like Keith Richard, that same kind of cool.  There’s a song on The Big Pink album by The Band they did, we did too on the new record, “I Shall Be Released”…not in the same key, a major vs. a minor. But that first solo album by Robbie…loved it.

      

    Hitman:  Levon Helm was also from Arkansas, did you know him?

      

    JDM:  Yeah, I got to meet Levon and Rick Danko, but not Robbie Robertson.

      

    Hitman:  Jim, I want to get this interview into our magazine, and get the word out on Black Oak Arkansas still out playing.  This has been a privilege for me, truly, to speak with one of the legends of rock n’ roll.

     

    JDM:  Thank you, call me anytime!

     

    0
Black Oak Arkansas Webcrew's picture
on February 14, 2014 - 6:01pm

Check out this interview that Jim Dandy just did with Hank “Hitman” Hart over at Southern Fried Magazine.

An Interview with Jim "Dandy" Mangrum of Black Oak Arkansas

I had the pleasure, and I mean pleasure, of interviewing by phone, a legend in rock n' roll, Jim "Dandy" Mangrum" of Black Oak Arkansas. I found Jim to be entertaining, extremely knowledge of the rock music business and rock history, American history, politics, finance, and an even more diverse array of subjects.  I've cut down the interview a little to focus on the music aspects, but I intend to follow up with Jim once the Southern Fried Tour gets underway.  He was a gentleman, but also the kind of guy you'd like to hang out with for hours whether playing cards, having a beer or two, or just cruising in your car through Memphis, where he currently lives,or better yet, through Black Oak, Arkansas.

 

Hitman:  Jim, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview.  We here at Southern Fried Magazine are very excited about the upcoming Southern Fried tour with Black Oak Arkansas along with Preacher Stoneand The Young Brothers. The same can be said for Premier Tours and a friend of yours....Greg Stead.

 

JDM:  Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure, and hello to Greg.

Hitman:  Black Oak Arkansas has been a name in rock and roll for over forty years, and the band’s roots actually go back to the 60’s with a band known as The Knowbody Else.

JDM:   What a name! K-N-O-W, ha, ha, ha!

Hitman:  You came on as the lead singer, replacing Ronnie Smith as production manager?

JDM:  Yeah Ronnie, he was the road manager, yes, he did that for a while. Ronnie was from Paragould, Arkansas.

Hitman:  Everybody had a nickname in that band including you, such as, “Chickey Hawk”.

JDM:  Yeah, Ronnie Smith was “Chickey Hawk”.

 

Hitman:  And there was “Richochet” (Ricky Lee, guitar) and “Goober Grin” (Stanley Knight, guitar)

 

JDM: Yes, bless his heart, he (Stanley Knight) just passed away about three or four weeks before we started cutting the new album. A tragedy.

 

Hitman:  Your nickname, how did you get it, were you called that after the song “Jim Dandy (to the rescue)” originally done by Laverne Baker?

 

JDM:  Actually, Elvis’ DJ friend George Klein called me and told me The King was going to call me. Elvis did in fact call, and he wanted me to do the song “Jim Dandy”. He asked why I wasn’t doing it already.  Man, I was thinking, there is no way I’m going to say “no” to the king of rock n roll! I was about nine years old when that song came out, and my Daddy called me Jim Dandy.  Elvis told me there is only one King, and it wasn’t him, that the rock n’ roll music being played, or gospel or country music was made for the DJ’s to make money.  What Elvis left me with though, is something that I still keep in me, and that is the music comes through us, not from us…we’re playing for those folks in the house, and we got the best seat!  Man, that stuck with me, because I thought how noble that was of the King of rock n’ roll to tell me that.

 

Hitman:  Black Oak Arkansas’ version of Jim Dandy became a huge hit.

 

JDM:  It was number 1 for about 15 weeks in 1973.  It was supposed to be a joke song, like “Titties and Beer” for Frank Zappa.  You know FM radio didn’t start to happen until around then. There was a group of investors and they put this show together “Beaker Street” on the AM station in Little Rock, it was cool, and there was nothing cool about Arkansas at the time.  But “Beaker Street” was sort of the front runner for that type of format before the rise of FM radio stations.  The DJ would play our first album, the one with the map on the cover…with “Hot and Nasty” on it.   So, when “Jim Dandy” came out as a single, it got a lot of airplay.  That station was so powerful it reached all the way to Mexico. Gave people down there the opportunity to hear songs that may not otherwise been heard. Yeah, the DJ, Clyde Clifford, he was cool, had this cool format.  I just talked to him the other day...yeah, it was ahead of its time that show. Nowadays you can’t do that (progressive formats) on FM radio, all that corporate stuff.

  

Hitman:  How true is the story that the band’s first PA system was stolen from a high school and you were charged in absentia with grand larceny and sentenced to 26 years…a sentence that was later suspended?

  

JDM:  Yeah, ha!  We got this system and mics from a school...yeah, some of the guys got six years, others got four, but eventually those charges were dropped by the governor after we became this big thing.  You know we had nowhere to rehearse back in those days also...wound up rehearsing in a grain elevator.  And I got thrown out of every public school in Arkansas!  And my hair was long!  Before the Beatles even came out with those haircuts.  My Daddy told me although he didn’t like it, just to keep it clean.  You know in the south at that time, if you had long hair, you were looked down on, and that you were not very manly.  I’d be getting in five fights a week behind the same barn but nobody could knock me out.  After this stuff had gone on for a while, with both me and Rickey getting tossed out of schools all the time, and the fighting, I said to him, “Don’t you know three chords?”...he said he knew four, so I said, “We’re gonna have a band”!!   It was more of a statement than anything. It took us a while before we could do anything.  I mean we didn’t know what we were doing.  We were a garage band without a garage!  You know now we do this stuff on purpose, it’s so much easier, but I’m having fun, and that’s what is important.

  

Hitman:  Your new album that’s out, “Back Thar and Over Yonder”, tell us a little about it.

  

JDM:  Oh yeah, and its back on Atlantic/Atco!  There’s five new songs on there, and some unreleased stuff from the seventies that Tom Dowd had produced.

  

Hitman:  Who are the musicians that are now playing the album on tour?

 

JDM:  Well Rickie is with me on guitar and Pat “Dirty” Daughtery, and Arthur Pearson who had played in a band Judge Parker, also Buddy Church on guitar, drummer Johnnie Bolin, George Hughen, and Jimmy Henderson.

 

Hitman:  David Lee Roth claims that you were a major influence on him for his stage persona, who influenced you?  And how much of what you see on stage is you or a persona?

  

JDM:  Oh man, a lot of cats are claiming they got from me, I don’t know about that.  Sometimes he said he did, sometimes he said he didn’t.  But the saying is “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”   If you watched me, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out.  I mean I came out there playing that scrub board like Chuck Berry playing his guitar. Elvis, he was having more fun than any human being I ever saw.  Man I told my grandmother that’s what I wanted to be, and she said “Who do you think you are”, and I’d say,  “it’s not who I am, but who I’m going to be”…it’s the dream. Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and James Brown.  I mean all those cats were moving on the stage, not standing still…I mean playing to the audience, actually playing through the audience, getting that message out there.  Spreading that rock n’ roll.

  

Hitman:  I’d like to go back to the song “Jim Dandy” one last time, and ask you about Ruby Starr who helped make that a huge hit with her vocals in that song.  She certainly was a great singer in her own right, and you guys stayed close through the years, yes?

  

JDM:  Yeah, met her at a show in Evansville, Illinois.  She was with us 3 years, she joined up with us, not because we were a bunch of male musicians, but because she wanted to sing…she was good, I miss her.  She passed away about 23 years ago, at the age of 45 of inoperable brain cancer. We do a song for her every night.

 

Hitman:  How do you see yourselves, the band, in the southern rock hierarchy along with The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Outlaws?  You were asked to play at Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam in 1979, and that is no small thing.

JDM:  Well, you know we were right after The Allman Brothers, so to speak, we were the second “southern rock” band.  But we didn’t think of us at a southern rock band. We played everything man, we were a rockin’, boogie band, a touch of gospel, soul, country. Our song “Mutants of the Monster”, some people could call it heavy metal.  Rock n’ roll is the illegitimate son of all that music, we probably did everything but jazz.  If you look at the map of the USA, we are not that southern, compared to where Florida is.  And there are northern cats livin’ in the south, and southern cats livin’ in the north.  We were just hoping God wouldn’t be laughing at us…we just wanted that spontaneity and let nature take its course.

  

Hitman:  What’s your greatest thrill with the band, a certain concert, or certain night?

  

JDM:  Wow…I had a lot of them!  Wow…some question, you may think its corny, may not sound to you like such a thrill, but what I am so proud of, I am the only member of Black Oak Arkansas, that actually lived in Black Oak, Arkansas.  Town of 300.  I mean Black Oak is only about 60 miles from Memphis, but it is worlds away as far as the being the same.  Black Oak, everybody knows everybody, just a quiet, in the woods, peaceful area.  Really, I am very proud of that.

  

Beyond that, I mean I’ve had a lot of thrills.  Played in front of 200,000 people at the California Jam.  Met John Lennon; he was cool, he was more about than just playing music…he was spreading a message and when I met him, he put his hand on my shoulder and told me I was ahead of my time.

  

This business has given me a lot of thrills, I mean the money, fame, that’s NOT what it’s about.  I’m a performer playing through to people…it’s all about the people, without the people we are nothing.

  

Hitman:  Yes, in today’s economy, people don’t want to spend money on a band that’s going through the motion.  People don’t have a lot of money to spend on their entertainment, and they want to see a group that gives it their all.

  

JDM:  Right you are, about money.  People make more money now than they ever have but yet they don’t have enough money to live.  Things are getting tougher for the poor people.  So again its important to me when we play to give them a good show.  Some of the ticket prices some of the groups are charging is crazy.  I mean we did a show with Bruce Springsteen opening for us, and the ticket price was four dollars!

  

Hitman:  What do you think about today’s music?

  

JDM:   I like it…if they keep the spirit of rock n roll alive.  I mean I just love what Kid Rock is doing.  He had asked me to play with him, play on his tour, butjust didn’t work at the time.  He told me to come on up where he is and tour with him, make money.  I love the Foo Fighters…and the kid with the two H initials, his name escapes me at the moment.

  

Hitman:  Hunter Hayes?

  

JDM:  Yeah, Hunter Hayes, love what he’s doing.

 

Hitman:  What’s one thing I haven’t asked that you want the readers to know.

  

JDM:  Again, its about the people.  As I said before about Elvis, saying the music is coming through us, that was the noblest thing Elvis said and it stuck with me.  I am so happy to be doing what I am, its fun, I mean I had a blast on that Rock Legends tour playing with guys like Molly Hatchet.  You know talking to our fans after shows, it was a great time.

  

Hitman:  One question I ask everybody I interview and that’s if you were stranded on a deserted island with a boom box, a lifetime supply of batteries, but could only have one record, which one would it be?

  

JDM:  Just one?  Wow…that’s tough…that would be Robbie Robertson’s first CD.  I mean he was so cool, He was sorta like Keith Richard, that same kind of cool.  There’s a song on The Big Pink album by The Band they did, we did too on the new record, “I Shall Be Released”…not in the same key, a major vs. a minor. But that first solo album by Robbie…loved it.

  

Hitman:  Levon Helm was also from Arkansas, did you know him?

  

JDM:  Yeah, I got to meet Levon and Rick Danko, but not Robbie Robertson.

  

Hitman:  Jim, I want to get this interview into our magazine, and get the word out on Black Oak Arkansas still out playing.  This has been a privilege for me, truly, to speak with one of the legends of rock n’ roll.

 

JDM:  Thank you, call me anytime!