The Story Behind “When Electricity Came To Arkansas” by Black Oak Arkansas

The Story Behind “When Electricity Came To Arkansas” by Black Oak Arkansas | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Black Oak Arkansas live - Dave Wright / Youtube

The energetic southern/metal/classic rock infusion of Black Oak Arkansas was spearheaded by the enigmatic frontman, Jim “Dandy” Mangrum. Their 1971 debut album, Black Oak Arkansas, encapsulated what the band was all about, becoming one of the most celebrated rock catalogs of all time.

But the road wasn’t always paved for Black Oak Arkansas – or Knowbody Else, as they were formerly known as – scraped the bottom of the barrel just to survive and do what they loved most, music. Longtime guitarist Ricky Lee remembers when they got their big break, saying, “Well, we’d put out our first Atlantic album, and we were doing really good. There was no other group doing that kind of music then. We were the first ones to have the three guitars, the first to mix up rock, country, and rhythm and blues. We got a major agent in New York who was gonna book us, and Iron Butterfly were doing a farewell tour at the time, they were going to break up. So they did a national tour and we got on a bus and opened up for them, and when we came back, it was time for Grand Funk Railroad to break up, so we got their break-up tour, too.”

The release of their self-titled debut put Black Oak Arkansas on a level playing field with its contemporaries, with hits like the rowdy “When Electricity Came To Arkansas” fueling the bright but brief affair.