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Black Oak Arkansas guitarist Rickie Lee Reynolds dies aged 72

Black Oak Arkansas
(Image credit: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Rickie Lee Reynolds – founding guitarist of Southern rock band Black Oak Arkansas – has died at the age of 72.

In a new statement on Facebook, Reynolds' daughter Amber Lee reveals that her father suffered a cardiac arrest whilst in hospital, and that medical staff were “unable to resuscitate him”.

“We are all heartbroken by this massive loss, and the whole world feels colder and more empty without his presence among us,” she says.

“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.

“Share his greatness with another today, and help make the world a better place, just as he did. Let's shine his light upon all around us. Look at something beautiful today and truly appreciate it deeply in your soul.”

She continues: “All of my love goes out to those who feel this overwhelming loss right now, just as I do. Please take heart in knowing he loves all of us, as much as we love him. And he felt that love every day in the center of his big ole heart. He will continue to feel that love, forever. Just as we will never forget the love he bestowed upon us.”

Lee revealed on Saturday (September 4) that Reynolds had been in hospital “for a while” with Covid, and that he had experienced another cardiac arrest that morning.

In 1963, Rickie Lee Reynolds formed The Knowbody Else with singer Jim Dandy after the pair met in junior high school. After recording a self-titled album under that moniker in 1969, the band signed to Atco Records and rebranded as Black Oak Arkansas, releasing their eponymous debut in 1971.

Reynolds left the band in 1976 and later rejoined in 1984. Following his readmission, the band found a new audience in America's biker community with tracks like Hot and Nasty and Hot Rod.

“We found ourselves doing a dozen biker gigs a year,” Reynolds told Classic Rock in 2008. “The two biggest biker bands are us and Steppenwolf. They've got Born to be Wild and stuff like that that relates to bikers. I've never been able to put my finger on why they like us so much, but we love it.”

During their tenure, the band released numerous studio albums, including 1973's High on the Hog and live album Raunch 'N' Roll Live, both of which are certified gold.

The band also enjoyed notable hits in Jim Dandy – from High on the Hog – and Lord Have Mercy on My Soul – from their debut album.

Elsewhere in the 2008 Classic Rock interview, Reynolds spoke of how “no other group [was] doing that kind of music,” when Black Oak Arkansas formed.

"We were the first ones to have the three guitars, the first to mix up rock, country, and rhythm and blues."

Sam Roche

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.