I have to confess that I wasn’t really too attuned to the music of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils during the 1970s, when the country-rock sextet was hitting the charts with regularity. In fact, I can’t say that I even remember the group in those days, but that was mostly because I wasn’t really listening to that kind of music at the time. In later years I learned to appreciate the Daredevils, who spent several years as one of the best country-rock bands around, with hit songs like “If You Want To Get To Heaven” and the chart-topping “Jackie Blue.”
The group’s name was certainly apt. Formed in the early 1970s in Springfield, Missouri — known as the Queen City of the Ozarks — the band consisted of six outstanding musicians who were long-haired, bearded, and musically adventurous. Original members included Randle Chowning, John Dillon, Steve Cash, Larry Lee, Buddy Brayfield, and Michael Granda.
Reminiscent of the Eagles with a touch of CCR and Steely Dan thrown in, the new group began to attract some attention and it was soon signed to a recording contract by A&M. The Daredevils’ debut album climbed high on the charts, and included “If You Want To Get To Heaven” and other good songs, like “Chicken Train” and “Black Sky.” The group’s next album did even better, and it contained “Jackie Blue,” which would be the Daredevils’ biggest hit single.
The Daredevils continued to be popular for several years but record sales began to lessen, and by the end of the decade things began falling apart. Various personnel changes followed, and the band sputtered to a halt, although in later years they would occasionally rekindle. In recent years, various combinations of former Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ bandmates are still getting together from time to time, entertaining fans.