It is hard to imagine not hearing of or being familiar with a band that has been around for 55 years; but if I say the name Black Oak Arkansas, I would say that more than 60% of you won’t know who I am talking about. I’ll be honest, before writing this article, I had no idea who they were. Know, when I sing “Jim Dandy to the rescue” your memories will probably be sparked.
A few close high school friends that all lived near the town of Black Oak, Arkansas began a band called The Knowbody Else in 1963. After realizing that their original choice for lead singer wasn’t going to work, they recruited James Mangrum, a mutual friend between some of the members. They began playing together, combining a love for gospel, blues, and southern rock. By 1969 the band had traveled to Memphis, Tennessee and signed a deal with Stax Records.
By the 70’s the band underwent some lineup changes as well as a name change to Black Oak Arkansas from their shared hometown and origin. They relocated to Los Angeles, got signed by Atco Records, and released their self-titled debut album in 1971 which went on to be certified Gold.
The band reached massive attention when they covered “Jim Dandy,” the 1957 tune from R&B singer LaVern Baker. Interestingly enough, Jim was already using the nickname “Dandy” before covering the song, and probably wanted to play the song because of the title. Either way, the cover was a huge success and featured the hot and talented vocalist Ruby Starr.
After many lineup changes and a brief health-related absence from Dandy, Black Oak Arkansas continues to tour and record, returning with Atlantic Records in 2013 when they released an album with new and unreleased tunes.
Keeping The Blues Alive