Rickie Lee Reynolds, Black Oak Arkansas Guitarist, Dead at 72
Rickie Lee Reynolds, guitarist for classic Southern rock band Black Oak Arkansas, had died at the age of 72.
The musician’s daughter, Amber Lee, confirmed his passing via Facebook. Reynolds had reportedly been hospitalized due to COVID-19, before suffering kidney failure and cardiac arrest.
“Unfortunately, this morning he suffered another cardiac arrest, which they were unable to resuscitate him from. We are all heartbroken by this massive loss, and the whole world feels colder and more empty without his presence among us,” Lee wrote in her post. “Please take a moment of silence today to remember all of the love he gave to the world, and take some time to give back some of those wonderful feelings that he gave us all in our times of need.”
Lee’s message, which can be read in its entirety below, also thanked fans for their “outpour of compassion and care.”
Reynolds was one of the founding members of Black Oak Arkansas, alongside vocalist Ronnie Smith, guitarists Stanley Knight and Harvey Jett, bassist Pat Daugherty and drummer Wayne Evans. Smith soon vacated the frontman position, opting to become the band’s stage manager instead. In his place, mutual friend Jim Mangrum would take over lead vocal duties.
Black Oak Arkansas’s self-titled debut album was released in March 1971, featuring such well-known tracks as "Hot and Nasty", "Lord Have Mercy On My Soul", "Uncle Lijiah" and "When Electricity Came To Arkansas." The LP only peaked at No. 127 on the Billboard 200, but would eventually go on to be certified gold.
The band released an additional eight studio albums over the next five years, including 1973’s High on the Hog, the most commercially successful LP in their catalog. The album was buoyed by Black Oak Arkansas’s rendition of the classic R&B song “Jim Dandy,” which reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Known for their dynamic live performances, Black Oak Arkansas packed arenas throughout the ‘70s. Along the way, several notable artists served as their opening act, including Bruce Springsteen, Ted Nugent, Todd Rundgren, Aerosmith and the Eagles.
Reynolds departed the group following the release of 1976’s Balls of Fire. He'd eventually rejoin Black Oak Arkansas in 1984 and had been performing and recording with the band up until his death. The group's most recent album, Underdog Heroes, was released in 2019.