I first met Michael “Supe” Granda about 2:30 in the morning at Bruce’s Tavern in August of 1990. Or was it ’91? Anyway, the Illinois State Fair was in session, bars were open until 3 a.m., and I was playing a bunch of old, country songs wringing the last delights out of a late-night performance for a well-lubricated crew of hanger-on-ers. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils had a fair-long gig at a beer building on the fairgrounds sponsored by Stroh’s or Old Style or some beer or other (those were the days, my friends) and Supe, of course, was there playing bass with the Daredevils.
When the rest of the band headed for their hotel rooms after a long night of performing hits for the fair crowd, Supe went out on the town. He wasn’t in search of a wild party or another drink (but wouldn’t turn either one down), but checking out the local scene, making friends wherever people were making music. It’s what he did and still does and how he’s managed a nearly forty-year career in the music business — by being interested and interesting.
Granda, known to nearly all acquaintances, good friends and casual observers alike, as “Supe,” recently published a book about his adventures in show business, specifically his tenure as bassist and founding member of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. A St. Louis native, in the late ’60s Granda headed for Springfield, Mo., to attend college and instead found musicians and made music. By the early ’70s the Daredevils became a regional favorite in the Ozark area, then went on to hit the big time, scoring Top Ten hits, earning several gold records, and generally being one of the biggest names in the industry for a while. The group continues playing to this day sans a few members, but always with a core of founders and Supe holding down the bottom end.
According to the author, It Shined: The Saga of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils took about four years to write and another year spent in editing and publishing to bring it all to completion. The notion of writing a book came to Granda about five years ago during a period of reflection after his mother died.
“I realized then I better get busy and get this stuff down,” he says. “And I knew if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.”
Granda, a creative and prolific writer throughout his career, contributed tunes to the Daredevils’ canon and wrote articles about the music business for publications. As the Daredevils’ tour schedule slowed, he moved to Nashville, Tenn., and continued to write fun songs (ask him about Chet Atkins recording one), including Belly Button Polka, Pasta Man, and one we wrote together he called the Yuppie Blues.
“I’ve always written 1,500- to 2,000-word essays and published in magazines,” explains Granda. “I thought if I could string together 30 essays or so, I’d have a book.”
Not only does he have a book, he’s got a heck of a story. From growing up in St. Louis to the formation of the Daredevils and their climb to the top of the business, Granda may not have seen it all, but there were sure plenty of sights along the way.
“It’s such a unique American story,” he says. “I always liked books like this and enjoyed reading about the Beatles and the
Rolling Stones. So I wrote one about us.”
Visit with and listen to Michael “Supe” Granda, author, songwriter, musician, and regular raconteur on Sat., Nov. 15, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Recycled Records, (625 E. Adams St., 217-522-5122) and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble (3111 S. Veterans Parkway, 217-546-9440).