John Dillon, Co-Founder

John was born and raised in the sleepy Arkansas Delta town of Stuttgart. He learned guitar and country harmonica from his mother when he was 12 years old. John bought his first electric guitar—a Silvertone from Sears Roebuck and Company—when he was sixteen and made the decision, then and there, that music was his calling.  He resolved to follow his muse wherever she led him and, as luck would have it, this turned out to be Springfield, Missouri when in 1965 he was accepted into Drury University, graduating with degrees in philosophy and theater. 

Shortly after leaving college, with a few original songs under his belt and just enough skill on guitar to land a gig here and there, John played around Springfield as a solo musician and songwriter. He met friend and future partner, Steve Cash, in 1969.  And although Cash didn’t play an instrument he was interested in the music scene and asked John to help him learn harmonica.  It wasn’t long until Cash was writing his own songs and sitting in with John at his gigs. John performed on Thursday nights at the New Bijou Theatre as John Dillon and Friends. In 1970, Larry Lee asked John to jam with a loose group of musicians and writers who would soon form the band Family Tree, and John brought along Cash. The Family Tree band eventually evolved to become The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. And soon thereafter, as luck would have it yet again, John and Cash co-wrote “If You Wanna Get to Heaven,” a song that would become the Daredevils’ first radio hit. 

As a cofounder of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, John can look back at more than four and a half decades of music played, miles traveled, and countless stories of amazing characters and beautiful places. He still follows his muse, writing songs, playing and recording music with the band that he loves.

Active since 1971