Band of Oz and Shaggin in North Myrtle Beach

By Gary: 

I have decided to indulge myself just a little tonight.  I have been doing this for over 5 years now so I wanted to do something really different, but still stay in the Music Mode.  So, let’s go on a trip!

Somewhere around 1974 I was introduced to the “Carolina’s” and specifically, North Myrtle Beach South Carolina and 41 years later I am still a fan and still go there.  I do not go there anywhere near as much, but still go every few years.  We will have a house guest from Longs South Carolina in June/2015 which is the Myrtle Beach Area.
Why Myrtle?  Well, it has the accommodations, fantastic food, Great Golf (I am a golfer), Music/Beach Music/R&B, Soul, Funky and they still dance the Shag.  Now all of this is so reasonably priced you will not believe it.  Oh, yes the Beach is about 30 Miles long, but I am not a “Beach Person”, I go for the Food, golf, fantastic accommodations and the Great Music and Dancing.
Myrtle Beach

I took this photo in 2012, so it will give you an idea of the Beach, which I seldom use – Gary


I discovered and really and enjoy one band in particular  from Raleigh North Carolina, Band of Oz.  I have seen them a few times and they never disappoint.

Taken in 2009 just after the Band Of Oz won the CBMA Award at the Spanish Galleon Night Club in North Myrtle Beach

So how can so many WHITE Guys sound so Funky and almost black.  I watched the Muscle Shoals Video and Paul Simon said he wanted those Black guys for his recording; they said fine, but they are awfully pale.  White Bands in the Southern US are just Funky and soul driven and the Band of Oz is the one I really enjoy.
oz2oz4Band of Oz.


2009 / Hold Back the Night / Ducks Night Club North Myrtle Beach  /
2013 / Ocean Isle (Myrtle Beach Area) /
1982 / Higher and Higher /
2013 / Greensboro NC / Soul Man
The Band never had any Top 40 hits, but here are some of my Favourites:
Shama Lama Ding Dong / Let it Roll CD 1995
Johnny B Goode / Let it Roll CD 1995
Some Kind of Wonderful / Let it Roll Album 1995
Over the Rainbow / 2002
One Foot Draggin / 2002
Wall to Wall / Dancing in the Street CD / 1999
Countdown to Love / Dancing in the Street CD / 1999
Four Tops Medley / 1999
Love Song Medley

Band of Oz History

In the mid sixties the group known as Band of Oz had its humble beginnings in eastern North Carolina (Grifton) . It was a bunch of grammar and junior high school guys ( because no one was old enough to drive) being hauled around in Ray Houston’s Chevy station wagon pulling a little red trailer. The group at that time was called The Avengers.

As the mid sixties would have it the band was a guitar and keyboard group playing the sock hops at area schools, private parties and an occasional club whenever the owner would risk having them. The later part of the sixties saw the group bring in a horn section which brought a big change in the music. Freddy Tripp (Band of Oz, Dynamic Upsetters, Embers, Shakers, Breeze Band etc.) and Jimmy Smith were the first horn players. Until the name change around 1970 three members of the group had remained the same Johnnie Byrd, Buddy Johnson and Keith Houston.

As area available players (school mates of members) ran out, the band got its first player from the Greenville, NC Chuck French on trumpet. When the name was changed to the Band of Oz in 1970 most of the group was from the Greenville area, Chuck French / Trumpet, Gary Warren/sax, Randy Hignite/Keyboards , Jim Heidenreich/drums, all of Greenville and Johnnie Byrd/bass, Buddy Johnson/vocals and Keith Houston /guitar. Around 1971 another long time member Billy Bazemore replaced Buddy Johnson on vocals. Through the early seventies they continued playing the Frat parties private functions and clubs in the southeast.

In late 1976 the band now comprised of members from Raleigh to Greenville decided to try it as a full time band. Members were Chuck French /trumpet, Bob Lynch/sax, Ronnie Forbes/keyboards, Shep Fields/bass, Freddy Tripp (returning)Trumpet, Billy Bazemore/vocals, David Hicks /drums and Keith Houston /guitar. They hit the road traveling extensively in the Southeast playing the club circuit.

In the late seventies the band decided to try and cut back on some of the traveling and concentrate more on the Carolinas. They recorded and released their first single Shaggin’ written by Billy Bazemore and Keith Houston in 1978. The radio airplay and promotion seemed to catapult the group to another level. In 1979 they recorded their second single “Star of My Life” written by Chuck French.

The next big personnel change came in 1980 when John Thompson ( Monzas, Embers) and Butch Barnes (Songbird) joined the group. John’s baritone vocal gave the group a new facet and Butch’s sax and stage presence only enhanced the show. In 1982 (now working Mike Branch) the group recorded Ocean Boulevard written and produced by General Johnson and Warren Moise. Ocean Boulevard went on to be voted Beach Music song of the year and the group won Best New Group at the BMA show. Their first album (real vinyl) “Keep Keepin’ It Up” ( title track written by Tommy Red of Nantucket) was released on Surfside Records. In October of 1983 David Franks Replaced Mickey Hardy on keyboards.

In 1985 Butch Barnes and Billy Bazemore left the group and were replaced by Chris Keaton (High and Mighty The Kings) on sax and Doug Adams (Entertainers, Bill Deal, Fat Ammon’s Band) . Doug left and was replaced by Gary Brown. The group started working their second album containing ” Over the Rainbow ” which was arranged by Chris. The album ” One More Step ” was completed and released on Metro Records in 19 . It was one of first regional projects released on CD.

After the release of ” One More Step ” the group continued performing 200 to 300 shows per year.

In 1991 after being gone since 1985 Butch Barnes returned . Work on their third CD began in the early 90′s this project was handled by the group themselves and recorded at CMC in Zebulon, NC, then released on Ripete Records in 1995. This CD ” Let It Roll ” contains “Shama Lama Ding Dong” the People’s Choice Song of the Year at the Cammy Awards in 1995. It is still one of the most requested beach songs of all time.

1996 brought on big changes when John Thompson decided to get off the road. Jerry West was brought in as his replacement. The change actually expanded the versatility of the group by adding a high tenor lead voice that was able to cover more and different types of material. Once the transition was made, the guys started working on a third CD. Work on this project was stopped mid stream when Jerry decided to leave for Nashville. Rick Strickland (Shag Time) from Columbia, SC replaced Jerry on bass and vocal. Within a year and a half Jerry was back. The line-up at that time was David Hicks /drums, Chuck French /trumpet, Butch Barnes /sax, Keith Houston /keys and guitar, Rick Strickland /bass and Jerry West /guitar. Within months of the release of ” Dancing in the Streets ” Rick Strickland left. At this time David Franks re-joined the group on keyboards.

After working on their last project for over a year the Band of Oz released their latest CD ” Over the Rainbow ” They feel it is one of, if not their best work ever.

In March 2005, Band of Oz owners Keith Houston and David Hicks decided to bring a new, youthful sound to the band after Butch Barnes announced that he would be leaving in April 2005. At that time, Scott Fine /Vocals and Trombone, Tim Morris /Vocals and Trumpet, and Daniel Morris /Saxophone and Vocals joined the Band of Oz to bring a new youth and a BIG new sound to the band.


  • Thomas “Butch” Barnes: saxophone & vocals (1980–1985, 1991-April 2005)
  • Billy Bazemore: vocals (1971–1985)
  • Rick Brogden: keyboards (was an “ex-Ozzer” on “Let In Roll” in 1995)
  • Johnny Byrd: bass (1967-before 1976)
  • Roland Colsen: saxophone (1975–76)
  • Charlie Satterwhite: saxophone (1975-76)
  • Shep Fields: bass
  • Scott Fine: vocals, trombone (2005–present)
  • Ronnie Forbes: keyboards & vocals (1976-19??)
  • David Franks: keyboards, harmonica, vocals (October 1983-19??, 1999–present)
  • Chuck French: trumpet & vocals (by 1970–present)
  • Mickey Hardie: keyboards (19??-October 1983)
  • Jim Heidenreich: drums (1970-before 1976)
  • David Hicks: drums (by 1976–present)
  • Randy Hignite: keyboards 1969-1976
  • Keith Houston: guitar (1967–present)
  • Buddy Johnson: vocals (1967–1971)
  • Bob Lynch: saxophone (by 1976-1980)
  • Daniel Morris: saxophone & vocals (2005–present)
  • Tim Morris: trumpet & vocals (2005–present)
  • Rick Sanders: keyboards (?-1995-?)
  • Jimmy Smith: horns (1967-by 1970)
  • Rick Strickland: bass, vocals (1997?-1999)
  • “Big” John Thompson: bass, lead vocals (1980–1996)
  • Freddy Tripp: horns (1967-by 1970)
  • Gary Warren: saxophone (1970-by 1976)
  • Jerry West: guitar, vocals (1996-1997?,1999–present (took a 1½yr. leave)

Dancing the Shag or “Shaggin” in North Myrtle Beach






Junior Shag Team 2010 Fund Raiser / Boat Dock by Ray Sharpe (Linda Lu) /

2013 / Jackie & Charlie / Senior Shaggers /
1995 / Same Couple, yes they are married/ in competition /
2014 Senior Champions Myrtle Beach /

My Favourite Shag Dancing Tunes

Boat Dock / Ray Sharpe
J.C. / Dave Weld & Imperial Flames
Vance Kelly / Wall to Wall
Vance Kelly / Mustang Sally
Mojo Blues Band / Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu
Mojo Blues Band / Hound Dog
Myrtle Beach, SC

The year? 1945. The place? Ocean Drive in Myrtle Beach, SC. An old beach house has withstood the test of Hurricane Hazel and been converted into a beer joint. Teenagers pack in from one wall to the other on a hard-packed dirt floor. There is a jukebox playing Rhythm & Blues and cold beer is being passed through a hole in a nearby wall. This place was known as “The Pad!” It was slowly upgraded to have wood plank floors and low ceilings. It definitely had the makings of a good Rhythm & Blues club!

“The Pad” would become known as a fortress for “SHAG” to teens in Myrtle Beach, SC…

What is “Shag” you ask? It’s a phenomenal dance craze that started in Myrtle Beach in the 1940 and 1950’s. Local teens invented the dance step that is most suited to Rhythm & Blues music. But “Shag” is much more than a style of swing dancing; it is a way of life for people from Virginia Beach to Florida! Some may even refer to it as a “religion.”

What is this dance that has gained so much attention?

It is a 6-count, basic pattern dance with East Coast Swing. There is a rearrangement of the footwork that makes it look and feel unique. All the action occurs below the waist, though instructors tend to teach a very standard basic pattern.

True seasoned “Shaggers” take pride in adopting their own versions of the dance, each being distinctive and smooth. Using the balls of their feet and small steps, “Shaggers” manage to perform this very “cool” style of dance to individual perfection!

Not only have the Carolina’s been famous for “Shag,” but they are also home to “Beach Music,” better known as Rhythm & Blues. But as “Shag” has evolved, so has the music. Now “Shaggers” enjoy performing their magic to everything from gospel to music from the big band era (known in the Carolina’s as “Smoothies.”)

This Myrtle Beach “pastime” has become much larger in nature with Shag Clubs popping up everywhere. All of the clubs are members of the Association of Carolina Shag Clubs. The “Shag” has even been declared the official dance of the state of South Carolina!

Today there are major events such as the Grand Nationals in Atlanta where “Shaggers” can show their stuff and compete against the best in the country. “Shag” has even spread internationally to London, Ontario, where it is a favourite for many.

“Shag” has become such a way of life to so many people that it is hard to imagine a time before “Beach Music” and pink shoes. We definitely haven’t seen the last of the heralded “Shagger” or the end of this growing phenomenon!



3 responses to “Band of Oz and Shaggin in North Myrtle Beach

  1. Hey Russ and Gary,

    Rock and Roll has lost a legend…

    Please look at facebook/joe bennett taught me guitar, and facebook/Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones.

    Christine Woitowitz (former Bennett guitar student) Cowpens, SC

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

  2. Quite interesting and informative – Too bad I’m getting a little to long in tooth to perform this dance !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.