Remember the Country-Rock Band the Ozark Mountain Daredevils?

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The Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ self-titled debut aka the “Quilt” album

The country-rock band the Ozark Mountain Daredevils were formed in 1972 in Springfield, Mo., by Randle Chowning, John Dillon, Larry Lee, Steve Cash, and several others, and were signed to A&M Records by in-house producer David Anderle, who was said to be looking for an Eagles-type band.

Anderle paired the group with record producer Glyn Johns, best known for his work with the Rolling Stones and The Who, and they recorded and released their self-titled debut in 1973. The album—referred to as the “Quilt” album because of its patchwork cover—rose to #26 on the U.S. sales chart thanks in large part to the success of their harmonica-led, debut single, “If You Wanna Get to Heaven,” written by Cash and Dillon, which reached #25 on the Hot 100.

The song, with its prominent use of harmonica, features the lyrics: “If you want a drink of water, you got to get it from a well. If you want to get to heaven, you got to raise a little hell.”

A second album, It’ll Shine When It Shines, went even further than its predecessor, peaking at #19. When the album’s first single failed to chart, a second song was released to radio, “Jackie Blue.” The pleasing track, co-written by the band’s drummer, Larry Lee, and Cash, reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on Record World on May 17, 1975.

The group continued to record and release albums throughout the ’70s amid personnel changes but none achieved the success of the first two.

Cash, one of the band’s founding members, died October 13, 2019, after an extended illness. The band announced his passing on their Facebook page. Cash was 73. No cause of death was revealed.

He sang, and played harmonica (which his bandmate John Dillon urged him to learn), as well as percussion and keyboards. That’s his harmonica on “If You Want to Get to Heaven.”

The band made the following statement about Cash’s passing:

“Jackie Blue” topped the Record World singles chart on May 17, 1975

“It is with great sorrow that we have to inform you that one of our founding partners, Steve Cash, passed away this past weekend.

Steve Cash spent 48 years pouring his heart and soul into this band. He was our poet laureate, an amazingly talented harp player, but more importantly, he was our friend and brother and that presence cannot be replaced.

We ask that you send good thoughts to his family in this difficult time. Steve Cash may be gone from this Earth, but his lyrics and music will live on forever.”

Cash left the band briefly in the early ’80s but returned, though the group never again achieved national success. He told the Springfield (Mo.) News Leader, ““I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we live here in Springfield and are out of that LA-Nashville-New York connection,” he said. “We don’t have a manager in any of those places, and it puts us out of touch. I’ve talked to a lot of record executives who say ‘I didn’t know you guys were still alive.'”

Related: The band are playing their final tour in 2024-2025

Best Classic Bands Staff

8 Comments so far

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  1. Bomber
    #1 Bomber 15 October, 2019, 07:17

    I always thought Jackie Blue was sung by a female.

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    • Alti
      Alti 14 October, 2021, 10:28

      Larry lee sang it and all his songs have his distinctive voice. great band great albums. i’ve followed them since 1974 over here in n.ireland.

      Reply this comment
  2. james w. day
    #2 james w. day 15 October, 2019, 11:04

    never knew he was a harp player

    Reply this comment
  3. Bob Sled
    #3 Bob Sled 15 October, 2021, 15:42

    If you’re not familiar with their first album, check it out – some very fine music there highlighted by Spaceship Orion, Country Girl and Colorado Song.

    Reply this comment
  4. Baybluesman
    #4 Baybluesman 19 May, 2022, 21:46

    Whether they are “classified” as Country Rock, or Southern Rock, or some Hybrid therein, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils had a superb self-titled debut album, as well as the excellent follow-up albums “It’ll Shine When It Shines” and “The Car Over The Lake” LPs.

    Another overlooked and underappreciated band.

    Thank you BCB for highlighting this very talented group (as well as the contributions of John Dillon, Larry Lee, and Steve Cash), as a main/lead article.

    Reply this comment
  5. MisterLeeFromWaikiki
    #5 MisterLeeFromWaikiki 23 May, 2022, 02:07

    Minnesota State Fair Late 80’s late morning walking by bandshell & caught Ozark Mountain Daredevils gig. Sunny good vibes, good singing, good ensemble playing, loose & friendly stage presence with tight arrangements. No one star, a band of equals. I do remember great harmonica from Steve Cash though. “Walking Down The Road” was a highlight.

    Reply this comment
    #6 EVADZED 17 May, 2024, 23:20

    “YOU KNOW LIKE I KNOW” (1976). this is my favorite song from ozark mountain daredevils. it was on their fourth album MEN FROM EARTH.

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  7. Tyre
    #7 Tyre 18 May, 2024, 18:57

    Got this quilt album 1st week it was out in Southwestern Ontario. Great Album. So long ago now. have it on CD now

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