Steve Cash, the band’s two greatest hits “If you want to Get to Heaven” and “Jackie Blue” was originally a member of Ozark Mountain Daredevils, who died on Sunday 13 October at age 73 after a lengthy illness.
Steve Cash, the first original band member to pass away, was the most successful harmonicist player with songs such as “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” in the American musical lexicon.
“With great sorrow, we have to inform you that Steve Cash, one of our founding members, died last weekend,” said The Ozark Mountain Daredevils in a statement. “Steve Cash has been pouring his heart and soul into this band for 48 years. He was a laureate of our author, an incredibly talented harpist, but more importantly, he was our friend and son, and we can not substitute this presence. We ask you to give his family good thoughts at this difficult time. Steve Cash may be dead, but his lyrics and music live forever.”
Born on 5 May 1946 in Springfield in Missouri, Steve Douglas Cash attended primary school Delaware and high school Parkview and wasn’t particularly musical at a very early age. Instead, Cash was more athletic and was playing multiple sports and tracking and built wooden ramps with friends in the neighborhood, calling themselves the Daredevils, a name that he would rekindle in future years. While he attended the University of Missouri in Columbia, he spent time with poetry and spent some time playing around the music scene in Berkeley, California, before moving to Springfield. He met John Dillon, who inspired Cash to learn to play the harmonica.
“My influences have been throughout,” Cash said in the group book It Shined by bass player Mike’ Supe’ Granda. “I was only a child who grew up in the 1950s. I haven’t played music and I haven’t performed in bands anywhere. I said at one point, I’m just tired of listening. I want to play. I was influenced by everything once I started. Then, when we began playing, we all began to influence one another.”
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils soon developed around the music scene from the Springfield New Bijou Theater in 1971. With guitarist Randle Chowning, drummer Larry Lee, John Dillons and Mike’ Supe’ Granda and other Springfield musicians, several incarnations of the band first came into being in Springfield music prior to “Cosmic Corn Cob & His Amazing Ozark Mountain Daredevils.” Since nobody seemed to like the “Amazing Rhythm Aces” portion of the name and did not want to be confused, the name has been shortened into its current shape.
The band signed in 1973 and released its self-titled debut with the hit “If you want to get to heaven,” which includes the Billboard Hot 100 Top 25 “If you want to get to heaven,” which is later covered by Hank Williams Jr. and many others. Steve Cash wrote or co-scribed four tracks of the debut album and the band’s national spotlight was the success of the record. Their second album It’ll Shine When It Shines was an even bigger hit when they went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the sweaty “Jackie Blue” co-written by Cash, extending the band’s influence beyond country and southern rock.
Nevertheless, “Jackie Blue” was something of a bizarre band’s success as the pop-style wasn’t really representative of the band’s most core, nor was the song translated into a deeper fan base such as “If you want to get to heaven.” The Ozark Mountain Daredevils started to see declining commercial returns but built a dedicated fan base and a respective grassroots base. Both their contemporaries in 70’s music and newer artists of today regularly cite the band as a major influence.
Apart from a short period of time at the end of the 80s, Steve Cash remained a member of the band throughout his adult life, with the original members John Dillon and Mike’ Supe’ Granda still carrying his name forward. They released their new album Off The Beaten Path in 2018.
Steve Cash also wrote his first novel The Meq in the world of science fiction, and two sequences later called Time Dancers and The Remembering. His children, Cody Cash and Star Hargis, three grandsons, a grandmother and his sister, Linda Baird, survived him. There are no formal services scheduled. The Walnut Lawn Funeral Home cremates money.