Before David Lee Roth and Axl Rose made long hair and spandex rock star apparel, there was Jim (Dandy) Mangrum, an Arkansas hillbilly who pioneered the look and showcased a hard-won rebel attitude.

Mangrum's band, Black Oak Arkansas, brought Southern rock out of the South. In 1971 the group began barnstorming the country with live performances that galvanized the rock scene. Coming from the small burg of Black Oak, Ark., (population less than 300) the group wasn't too big for small towns at the height of its fame. The band played at the old Lewiston Speedway racetrack in 1975 when it was one of the top-grossing live acts in the country.

Back then the band was putting out two albums a year and touring 300 days, says Mangrum, now 63. "Our enthusiasm was more or less intoxicating."

Saturday the band performs in Lewiston a third time (the group returned in 2000), bringing songs like "Hot and Nasty," "Hot Rod," and "Jim Dandy to the Rescue."

Mangrum's father nicknamed him Jim Dandy when he was 9.

"I hated it," says Mangrum, in a phone interview from Sioux City, Iowa, where he was performing. He says he thought it was a "sissy" name and it led to many fights, as did his long hair.

But the name didn't seem so bad later when he was working on a music career and Elvis called him recommending he cover an R&B song called "Jim Dandy to the Rescue," which Mangrum didn't realize is where the name came from.

"I don't mind having a cartoon name now that I have grandkids, they love it," says Mangrum, who went on to make the song a pop chart hit.

Mangrum's father was a cotton farmer and his son was inspired to become a musician by watching Jerry Lee Lewis and Ed Sullivan.

"They had more fun than any human I'd ever seen," Mangrum says. "It's not that I wanted to be a success, or for ambition or to be rich, I just wanted to have that much fun. Me and Rickie (Lee Reynolds) have been doing this for a long time. I got us kicked out of every public school in Arkansas," he says about his bandmate. The two have performed together since 1963.

John Fogerty and John Lennon were among Black Oak Arkansas' many fans. He met Lennon at a benefit.

"He was cool, real, real cool. He told me I was ahead of my time," Mangrum says.

After a manager bilked the band out of millions in earnings he recalls that Fogerty advised him, "'don't let them get your sense of humor Jim, 'cause then they've got it all.' "

"Money comes and goes," says Mangrum, who is working on an autobiography and a new Black Oak Arkansas album.

"Bring some seat belts and parachutes and whatever else you need," he says about his Saturday show. "Don't come unless you want to go to something you're never going to forget."


Bauer may be contacted at or (208) 848-2263.