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Band Of Oz

Band of Oz are one of the longest-running bands on the East Coast beach music scene, with four decades under their belt and counting in the late 2000s. One of the secrets to their longevity is the constant influx of new members who have kept their sound fresh across the decades -- and the presence of members whose writing abilities have allowed Band of Oz to significantly augment the covers that fill much of the repertoire of beach music. The group was formed as the Avengers in Grifton, NC, in 1967 by a bunch of friends in elementary and junior high school. With Johnny Byrd (bass), Buddy Johnson (vocals), and Keith Houston (guitar) at its core, the group was oriented toward R&B and proved popular among local school-age audiences. They got the occasional club date as well, and did well enough to add Freddy Tripp -- later of the Embers -- and Jimmy Smith on horns, greatly extending their range and repertoire. By 1970, they'd dropped the Avengers name in favor of Band of Oz, around the same time that Chuck French joined on trumpet.

By then, beach music was starting to get noticed nationally -- one rival band, Bill Deal & the Rhondells, had even managed to chart a brace of singles -- and Band of Oz, working the Southeast from the Carolinas to Florida, were part of that same wave. They were still a semi-professional outfit, working part-time, but in 1976 the band -- by this time including Billy Bazemore (vocals), Chuck French (trumpet, vocals), Tripp, Bob Lynch (sax), Ronnie Forbes (keyboards), Shep Fields (bass), Houston, and David Hicks (drums) -- turned into a full-time professional band. Their first single, "Shaggin'," written by Bazemore and Houston, was released in 1978, and got them extensive local airplay. French wrote their second single, "Star of My Life," the following year.

Bassist/vocalist John Thompson and sax player Butch Barnes joined in 1980. Two years later, the group's fourth single, "Ocean Boulevard" -- co-written and produced by no less a figure than General Johnson (of the Chairmen of the Board) -- got them new exposure on the beach music scene, and led to the recording of the group's first album. Keep Keepin' It Up (Surfside). More personnel shifts followed, with David Franks coming in on keyboards. Barnes and Bazemore departed in the mid-'80s, before the band cut its second album, One More Step, but Barnes was back in 1991. A third album, Let It Roll, containing the song "Shama Lama Ding Dong," came out in 1995 -- that single became the People's Choice Song of the Year at the Cammy Awards.

In the years that followed, John Thompson ceased playing with the group in concert and was replaced, initially by Jerry West (who later switched to guitar) and then Rick Strickland, who lasted long enough to contribute to a new album, Dancing in the Streets. David Franks returned on keyboards, and another album, Over the Rainbow, followed in 2003. That same year, Band of Oz put together their first compilation, Early Years, featuring 13 songs dating from their late-'70s and early-'80s history, remastered and remixed. Barnes' exit in 2005 precipitated more changes, with Scott Fine (trombone, vocals), Tim Morris (trumpet, vocals), and Daniel Morris (saxophone, vocals) joining. Co-founder Houston and longtime drummer Hicks were still leading the band, which was still working over 200 days a year as of 2009. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Comments

A great band, the best !!
There is no other type of music
I like their sound and arrangement.
@ Noah PreFontaine- the instruments are not faked, if you would see them in person you would know how great this band is.... I have seen them all and friends with them. SOUND IS NOT FAKED!
Pretty sure this is half fake instruments that are computerized . Way to ricky tick. This band cannot swing...
earlenem5
The Amplitheater s summer music on Friday, Saturday nights....ha v e The Embers, The Tams, Band of Oz, and we all shag all over the dance floor; We are in Mt. Airy North Carolina; love beach music
To bad that we don't have a place to shag here at the Beach! That is Wrightsville Beach, NC...so close to Myrtle Beach, but not close enough! We would all go for sure! We Carolina Beach Music Shagging preppies!
We burnt the House of Shag down with them Friday Night at Thoroughbred Lounge, Charlotte NC!!! What a Party this was!!! Best time EVER!!!! People came from all over NC and SC! Great dancing crowd. Kept the floor packed! John Barkley Johnny B was the DJ!
Remember The UPPER DECK I Bartended there in the late 60's OH what a place!! W BCH NC
We grew up in Wilmington, NC..Went to OceanDrive (OD)...Loved the PAD. We actually went there in hopes to dance again like we did when we were just babies...V & ME...Love to all U Shaggers!! U R tha BEST.. Smell good, dance good, and dress great! Oh the smell of that Sand on the Beach!! OOOOh...Beac h sand in my soul! 143 - WHI.. :-)
Great Band! Go see them when they are in your area!
Shag Lives!!!!!!! ! !
I am sure they will be coming to Va. Beach this summer! Come to Va. Beach! You will love it too.
I grew up in OD...six blocks from the pad where it all started...th e Tams were young and great...now the Band of Oz is all we need to know!
14739578
I like there sound
firefighterj d t 8 8
ARE YOU ON THIS PAGE
firefighterj d t 8 8
I CAME FROM THE OCEAN
firefighterj d t 8 8
WHERE DID YOU COME FROM
MORE BEACH MUSIC PLEASE!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
gblackwe7
These guys used to come to Stuart Virginia for Virginia's Premier Beach Music Festival during the second saturday of every June. The festival is still being conducted and The Band Of Oz, The Embers, The Tams, were a few of the favorite groups that attended the event since the early 1980's. Great fun and Great music by a great bunch of guys!

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