By Trace Keane

Trace: When did you first meet Tommy Bolin?

Jim Dandy: The first time I met Tommy, of course this was before I met Johnnie or the rest of the family, ya’ know I never met a Bolin I didn’t love okay, but the first time I met Tommy he came up and met me in Los Angeles. We were headlining there, and he showed up and was doing some stuff in the studio or whatever. He wanted to talk to me about doing a project together, which I couldn’t believe at the time, if you remember what my voice sounded like back then.

Trace: What did you think when Tommy first joined Deep Purple?

Jim Dandy: After I met Tommy I knew he could do anything he wanted to, he could do the things that everyone was afraid to do. He wasn’t afraid to replace Joe Walsh of the James Gang and it was gonna take somebody special to replace Ritchie Blackmore. He was great and the material was great, the more he matured if was obvious he could do anything he wanted to and be anything he wanted to be, he never quit amazing me, and still does amaze me whenever I think of him or hear his music.

Trace: Black Oak Arkansas to this day still plays a number of Tommy’s signature songs, which ones stand out to you?

Jim: We have a new album coming out in September called Memphis Meantime, every time we do an album and this is my idea not Johnnie’s (Bolin) he was something. He was a timeless character and this world needs characters, his personality was a reflection of his character here on earth and now in heaven. He was unique like so few of the great ones, Elvis, Mohammed Ali, I keep a picture of Elvis right across from a picture I have with Tommy in my home and they are so much alike in personality that they both inspire me to this very day. Elvis is the one who told me to do “Jim Dandy To The Rescue.” He called me the Master of Ceremony, when we go out there we don’t just perform, it’s a sacred ceremony that we perform. People don’t understand how to do that in today’s entertainment. It is true, it’s not just the music business, it’s the personification business actually. We become the music and the songs we perform. I think that gets lost in today’s free world and the universe.

Trace: What are your favorite songs of Tommy’s?

Jim: Well all of em’ really, it’s so hard to say. On this album we’re doing a great version of “You Told Me That You Loved Me.” I love that one because we was always big on shuffle songs. We all remember “Homeward Strut,” I have always be very partial to that one, and on the new album we do “Homeward Strut” with me doing a spoken word to it, not singing, not rap but just plain speaking to the music. We thought we’d do it with Johnnie and call it “Homeward Strut From Tommy Town” (Tommy Town is what Jim calls Sioux City). When we leave Sioux City we’re going back to Memphis, as we always do when we leave Tommy Town, we’ve done it a million times because I like to capture the energy I get from coming here (Sioux City) directly back to the studio. We kept the same track Tommy used on Teaser and kept it the same, and our guitar player Hal McCormack is one of the few player who can play it the right way. Johnnie thinks it’s a great idea and we want all the young people to be aware that Tommy’s music is still ahead of his time, he’s timeless, and that’s just how Tommy’s was. I got the idea, do you remember the movie with James Belushi made called Canine? Remember when the German Shepherd was getting a piece from the poodle? And you hear the voice of the dog say “Oh Yeah” (Jim using a very deep voice). We also do “Post Toastee” and “Shake the Devil,” Someday I’d like to put “People, People” as a medley with “Power To The People. Also we have a song more up tempo that reminds me of “Bustin’ Out For Rosey.” I’ve been trying to get Dr. John to that one with us for years.

Trace: Johnnie Bolin has been with Black Oak Arkansas for almost 20 years now, how did Johnnie originally come to play with Black Oak?

Jim: Well I came to him to play with us, the first time I heard him play was with a band in Minnesota called Dare Force, big hair band… they was real pretty. I told him we were looking for a new drummer with his kind of sound, and when he became available he just fit right in with what we were doing. That’s why we always make it to the Bolin Fest. That’s why I love what your doing for Johnnie and Tommy Trace, right here at Bolin Fest is where it counts to the fans and the entire Bolin Family. When it comes to Johnnie or Tommy, we must never commit the sin of forgetting the unforgettable.

Jim Dandy Mangrum is the founding singer for Black Oak Arkansas who scored hits such as“Jim Dandy to the Rescue” and “Hot and Nasty” in the 1970s.