Black Oak Arkansas’s Jim ‘Dandy’ Mangrum Recalls Being Interrogated After John Lennon’s Death
John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Waylon Jennings all told Jim ‘Dandy’ Mangrum of Black Oak Arkansas to keep rocking like he’d been doing. The legends appreciated the loud, in-your-face style he brought to the stage, even (or especially) if he did upset more proper institutions.
In an interview with the Nervous Breakdown, Mangrum talks about being interrogated after Lennon’s death. “Seven and a half hours in a little room with no water,” he recalls. “Told me if I didn’t quit talkin’ between songs I might not be alive. I just tried to do like Ray Charles said and stay country dumb. But I’m a natural born agitator, live and die.”
“Waylon used to tell me, ‘They don’t know what to think about you, hoss. Keep it that way.’ I guess our stupid enthusiasm was contagious — longhaired country boys, smoking weed and talkin’ ‘bout karma…”
Black Oak Arkansas still keep a touring schedule, over 30 years after the height of their career. Albums like their self-titled project (1971), ‘Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live’ (1973) and ‘High on the Hog’ (1973) earned them a strong commercial following, which included a memorable performance to over 200K at California Jam in 1974. It was Mangrum they came to see, as the singer was both loved and hated for his glass and charred rock gravel road voice and overtly sexual dance moves (David Lee Roth calls him his inspiration).
Mangrum says he has a new album coming out this summer called ‘Memphis Mean Time.’ At age 64, he’s still stirring up trouble like he did 40 years ago.