Ozmantis was formed in the fall of 1977 by Bob Cody and Jerry Axson while the two talked music outside the Orangeburg Bowling Alley one Friday night. Bob’s family had recently moved to South Carolina from Pendleton Indiana and Jerry had just returned to South Carolina after having lived in Los Banos California for some years. Having come from the North and the West Coast, both were listening to very different music than what was available in the South at that time. Deciding to throw it all together, they began building a band in the basement of the Cody household with the support and patience of Bob’s parents Richard and Alberta Cody.
Bob and brother Leonard had been jamming with Dwayne Bishop and guitarist David (“Stoney”) Mason in a band called “Deuce”. The original Ozmantis lineup included Bob Cody on guitar and vocals, Jerry Axson on lead vocals, Leonard Cody on drums, and Dwayne Bishop on bass guitar. Long practice hours and High School talent shows found the band making a name for itself in Orangeburg. In early 1978 the band appeared on a WORG radio show - a “Heart Fund” fundraiser. David played with the band from time to time and appeared on the radio show with the group.
Dwayne Bishop left the lineup in the summer of 1978 for College and at this point a second guitarist Steve Adkins was added along with Tim Bramlett on bass. With the addition of Steve and Tim the band stuck with a strict 5 and 6 day per week practice schedule and a tight set list for playing out live began to form. Beginning in late 1978 and early 1979, the band was performing live at local festivals, Charleston College shows, and Columbia bars and clubs.
In mid 1979 the band dissolved for a few months. Fueled by a passion and curiosity for a new type of music called “Punk”, Steve Adkins went on to form “Red Menace” and later “Bored Suburban Youths” both bands important to the history of local music in the state of South Carolina. Tim Bramlett and Jerry Axson formed a band for a short period with Dale Evans called “Armada” and Leonard Cody left the band to tour with “Hi-O-Silver” out of Winnsboro, SC Bob began playing with bassist Mike Coats working a new song list. Bob and Mike were soon re-joined by Jerry when his project with Tim ended. Tim went on to play with Orangeburg bands “Moxie” and “Medicine Hat”.
Jerry Axson lobbied to fill the vacant second guitar spot while continuing to handle the lead vocal duties – an arrangement that worked out well for the band and himself. Greg Hough joined in the drummer position, but soon left the band as Leonard returned from his tour with “Hi-O-Silver” to re-join Ozmantis. The band played a few local gigs throughout 1980 with this lineup. Mike Coats left the band and was replaced by previous bass player Dwayne Bishop in late 1980 for a few months.
It was now early 1981. Dwayne Bishop left the band and was replaced by Glen “Bubba” Ray from Sumter, SC on bass and backing vocals. The band (now consisting of Jerry, Bob, Leonard and Bubba) worked up a very tight set list and played every weekend throughout 1981. In late 1981 Ozmantis partnered with John Titak of Southern Talent International a booking agent out of Atlanta, GA. Quitting their “day” jobs, they purchased a truck and a truck full of pro stage lighting and sound gear and hit the road playing bookings weekly on a tour circuit which included other notable bands of the time like “Hyjynx”, “Lizzie Borden”, “Toyz”, “Subway”, and “Eastern Seaboard”. Ozmantis toured over the next year and 1/2 returning to Orangeburg for short periods of time before going back out on the road.
In the summer of 1982 Jerry Axson left the band to pursue original song writing and recording and was replaced by Denny Ray from Sumter, SC on lead vocals and a second guitarist named Rod Honeycutt from Rock Hill, SC. Because the band was playing full time, the transition to add Denny and Rod had to be done quickly. After a 2 week break, the band was back on the road doing club gigs throughout the southeast, opening for bands like Black Oak Arkansas, Stillwater and Nantucket.
After 18 months of touring full time, in mid-summer of 1983, the band decided to leave the road and return to “day” jobs. Ozmantis continued to play weekend gigs and Rod Honeycutt left the band and was replaced by Buddy Jones on guitar in the fall of 1983. Buddy played with the band doing weekend gigs into the spring of 1984, when Rod Honeycutt returned for some shows to replace Buddy.
In the fall of 1984, Rod was not able to continue with the band due to his hectic travel schedule (Rod now resides in L.A. producing various entertainment and runway events). Ozmantis was once again looking for a second guitarist. The guitar slot was filled by Bill Earl from St. George SC and Ozmantis continued to play the club scene in the South Carolina area through 1985 with Bill Earl on guitar.
Bill departed the band in early 1986 to attend a structured guitar program and was replaced by Mark Rogers from Columbia S.C. Ozmantis continued to play club engagements into 1986 with the lineup of Denny, Bubba, Mark, Leonard and Bob.
In the summer of 1986 Bob Cody decided to leave the band to pursue some solo recording and eventually attended the O.C. Technical College computer program. Ozmantis continued to play gigs with the revised lineup of Denny, Bubba, Mark and Leonard until finally disbanding in the late 80’s.
Denny Ray resides with his family in Sumter SC. Mark Rogers lives in Columbia S.C. and plays guitar with various local groups. Bubba Ray went on to form “The Bubba Band” playing for many years throughout central South Carolina. Sadly, Bubba passed away due to complications from throat cancer in April of 2006. Leonard Cody founded and currently runs SCS&L concert sound and lighting.
Road Crew members throughout the journey:
John Nettles - Sound Engineer
Hal Axson – Sound Engineer
Harold Littrell – Sound Engineer and Lighting Technician
Buddy Addicks - Lighting Technician and Electrical
Jimmy Comer - Sound Engineer
Gary Duckett - Sound Engineer
Regan McCollum - Road Crew
Guy Mobley - Road Crew
Tony Ross - Road Crew
In the fall of 1982, the band had equipment stolen while doing a club engagement in Macon GA. Special thanks needs to be made to Mike Amos and Sid Gattis (Gattis Pro Audio in Columbia SC) for helping the band with equipment through this difficult time.