Oak has the distinction of being nationally known as a “One-Hit Wonder” – the term given to bands with only a single Top 40 entry in the Billboard sales charts. Around New England, though, the band was a phenomenon and local sensation, fighting its way up through the competition to attract the attention of Mercury Records, then releasing two albums on the national label in 1979 and 1980. Although Boston might have been paying more attention to its own Cars at the time, Oak grew up in the music scene well north of the city with members from Maine and New Hampshire. The five-piece rock group first got its chops together at the University of New Hampshire, becoming a popular mainstream bar band and turning professional by 1974. Five years later the group released its own single “This is Love”/“Goin’ Nowhere Fast” on the local Sky’s the Limit label. That effort and the clamor the group raised with New England fans attracted the national suits, and their first album, Oak was released shortly thereafter. A re-release of “This is Love“ reached #58 on the Billboard charts, but the greatest success came ten months later when “King of the Hill” made it up to #36. One more single, “Set the Night on Fire,” the title tune to Oak’s second album, would reach #71. But changing times and tastes in the new flashier MTV-driven world left the band behind. These days, lead singer Rick Pinette still performs in the area, usually incorporating Oak’s greatest hits in his set. Those songs stand the test of time and serve as a testament to a little band from “up north” that came in from the cold.
(By Carter Alan)