Early last week, I began to remember a female vocalist from the ’70s by the name of Ruby Starr.  That got me to thinking about Ellen Foley, Maggie Bell, and a host of others as well but that’s another story for later.

Thinking of Ruby Starr (who died of lung cancer back in 1995) got me to thinking of her band, Grey Ghost, which, finally, got me to remembering Black Oak Arkansas.  Now, black Oak Arkansas was immensely popular back in the ’70s.  But when their star began to burn out, they faded so fast it made my head spin.  But remembering that band brought many wonderful moments back.

Jim ‘Dandy’ Mangrum was a great frontman with plenty of swagger.  In fact, you might be able to say that “Diamond Dave” Lee Roth of Van Halen fame completely stole that whole game that Mangrum created as vocalist for BOA.  Hell, it’s almost identical.  And I still remember his washboard playing.

Then there is Tommy Aldridge, an unsung, but well-traveled drummer, who pounded the skins for not only Black Oak Arkansas, but also Pat Travers, Ozzy Osbourne, and Whitesnake.

I won’t ignore the other fine musicians in Black Oak Arkansas who made the band a joy to listen to.  But the band itself was a strong part of the ’70s Rock and Roll dream that never seems to get much recognition these days.

I’m sure there are a whole lot of other bands that were very popular back ‘in the day’ who enjoyed a meteoric career only to suddenly disappear from site.  BOA never really disappeared though.  Mangrum kept the band going but who really knew about them after their fall.  Not I.

Still, Black Oak Arkansas was a great band with some very excellent albums to their credit.  I played a lot of their videos on YouTube over the week.  Enjoyed them all.

Oddly enough, I really mourn the loss of Ruby Starr, a sexy southern girl with a ton of hot charm, all of which she used liberally in her promotion of Grey Ghost, as well as her appearances with BOA.  (Ruby is the female vocal part of the single “Jim Dandy”!)

I often wonder what happened with the machine known as Black Oak Arkansas, how they fell so suddenly.  They were there for a long period, then they weren’t.

Do yourself a favor, especially if you were ever a fan of the band.  Check out some of their vintage videos on YouTube and regain a little of your youth back.

By MARowe

4 thoughts on “Black Oak Arkansas”
  1. Black Oak Arkansas never got a lot of critical respect, and I can understand that. They weren’t the best musicians, Jim Dandy’s voice could get irritating after long exposure, and their songs were not very challenging in terms of musical structure or texture. But when measured for entertainment value? There were very few challengers! I was lucky enough to see them in a relatively small venue at the height of their power. They got everyone in the place into an absolute frenzy. I’ll never forget the two guitarists swinging their guitars like war clubs until they finally smahed them together. And Matt, you’re right, there’s never been anything quite like Jim’s washboard virtuosity. :-)
    There were a few unique and memorable songs from BOA. “Fertile Woman” was quite interesting (not sure about political correctness, but it sure was heart felt) and songs like “Swimming in Quicksand” and “Why Shouldn’t I Smile” really conjur up some happy memories. BOA had a unique blend of southern values and raunchy swagger that appealed to a lot of people at the time. I recently revisited “High on the Hog” and “Raunch and Roll Live” myself Matt, and while I enjoyed them it was a nostaligic recollection rather than a musical re-awakening…seems BOA hasn’t aged as well as some bands have. BUT, I still enjoy the band immensely and they remain in my playlist!

  2. I had the pleasure of seeing Black Oak Arkansas live at the Masonic Auditorium in Detroit in the early/mid- 70’s. The support act was a new band named Bad Company. The BOA fans weren’t the most appreciative of Paul Rogers, et al, but I thought they were (and still are) great.

    BOA put on a very energetic show. The die-hard BOA fans, of which there were many in Detroit, got into the groove from the get-go…

    An ElPea tht graced my turntable quite often at the time was “Raunch and Roll- LIve”. Although BOA could be erratic in their studio pieces, “Raunch” boils BOA down to their essence- giving you the “hits” in full glory.

    BOA is a guilty pleasure from my formative/post-formative years. Thanks for the spark that makes me want to seek out the CD/DD version (for some reason, I can’t locate my original vinyl… considering the times- go figure…)

  3. BOA played at the very first arena rock show I ever attended in November of 1974. The billing was Golden Earring, Foghat & Black Oak. I remember it like it was last month. Ticket price was $5.50! Still have my QUAD vinyl copy of Raunch & Roll too.

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