Southern Rock lost a legend this month in Rickie Lee Reynolds, a founding member of Black Oak Arkansas.
Known as “Ricochet” and “The Wizard Of Oak” to his fans, Rickie Lee played with BOA for over 50 years and brought his country-fried electric sensibility to every stage he graced. Black Oak Arkansas was a huge stadium draw in the 1970s, and were well known for their lively shows and the on-stage antics of singer Jim “Dandy” Mangrum. The band easily blended originals with covers of their favorite songs throughout their discography. Even now much of their music remains timeless and fun. As recently as mid August 2021, the band played a show with Foghat. Afterwards Rickie Lee entered a Memphis hospital to be treated for Covid, where they also discovered that his kidneys were failing.
Sadly he succumbed to cardiac arrest before he could be treated.
I’ve been a fan of BOA for a long time; I even raised both of my sons to know many of their songs! I’ve always felt that other Southern Rock bands unfairly got more exposure than BOA did; since 1970 they have released over 20 albums, and they have continued to perform. In August 2019 I was blessed with the opportunity to capture them performing with Limberlost in Spokane, for the 40th Annual Pig-Out.
What a fantastic night of music and comradery we had!
On their way to the show, their bus suffered a breakdown that stranded them in Montana. Despite the hiccup, they managed to get on stage and start playing less than an hour late; then they launched into a high powered show without soundcheck – mixed with new and classic material. The moments between songs were punctuated by Jim Dandy’s infectious smile, upbeat speeches, and joking with the crowd in his signature drawl. It was obvious from the moment they ascended the stage that the band was having a lot of fun. I had a huge smile on my face for hours afterwards, and well over 1000 photos from the entire show to review when I returned home.
Today I am thankful on so many levels for the chance I had to see Rickie Lee play and share his soul with us. I thought long and hard through the day on how much I loved their show, enjoyed meeting them afterwards, and how much happiness Black Oak Arkansas’ music continues to bring me. May Rickie Lee rest in peace, and may his family feel the love and appreciation that all his fans have for him and the musical legacy he leaves with us all.