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Photo: Stella Weiss. © Bruce Pates. May not be used without permission.
Ed Cassidy was a founding member of Spirit, and the only drummer to play with the band except for a few very rare guest appearances by other drummers.
Ed "Cass" Cassidy was born way out on the south side of Chicago on may 4th 1923. His family moved to California in 1931 during the great depression of that time. The family settled in the small town of Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley.
"According to my mother, I have always had the willingness to want to sing, dance and carry on, from the time I was able to walk. My real father died when I was quite young, but my stepfather played the fiddle all the time and there was always music filling the house."
His early musical experiences included playing Country & Western, Polka's, Dixieland, Latin, Big Band, Jazz with Will Osborne, Lee Williams, Chuck Hugguns and the Snake White LA based Jazz band in the 50's. Cass also did a short stint with the S.F. opera. At one time in the late 40's Cass played 282 consecutive one-nighters with a midwestern Commercial Band covering 17 states.
Cass took time off to become a stevedore in the Navy SeaBees during World War 2 from 1943 to 1945. After his discharge he worked at many jobs before becoming a fulltime musician again such as salesman, cab driver, swimming pool service man, air craft mechanic, missile mech., truck driver, Calif. state grain expector, fruit picker and gardener to name a few.
"I think I played every kind of music there was to play after the war. I did some soundtrack music for old westerns...you know, the suspense music that plays while the old barn burns! I worked in show bands, Dixieland combos, country & western bands and even did a brief stint with one production of opera."
In 1950 Cass enrolled at S.F. State Teachers College to get a musical teaching credential. After about a year he decided that teaching in a classroom setting was not for him. Playing live was his real love so he decided to move to Southern California to meet more Jazz musicians and maybe form a group of his own. It was a good time for Cass because he was to meet and play with many of the fine musicians of those times.
Musical accomplishments have not been the only artistic direction Caas has turned to. In 1975 he decided to try his hand at acting and joined a local theater and improv group in Denver Co.. He also at this time created and taught a musical class he called "Let's talk about music as a career" at the Denver free University. He moved back to California in 1980 and continued his acting and musical careers in southern California.
He has done live theater improv, stage, college films, 2 minor roles on TV's General Hospital, also small parts in the movies '2010' and The Escape Artist, a Francis Coppola film. When not touring with Spirit Cass does his own special drum clinic as well as special lectures, seminars and personal appearances.
Cass has always been an avid reader himself so he decide it was time to do some writing himself. He is now in the process of finishing up two books, one dealing with his wast experiences on and off the road and the other dealing with his ability to stay fit and healthy at 68 plus. As for the future Cass says
'I keep playing and performing because it's fun and I enjoy seeing new places and new faces and I do believe our music has and does make a difference to all our fans who keep coming to our concerts after 25 years. "
(I got this info from Ed when I ordered the Fankhauser/Cassidy CD. Writer unknown. The first two quotes are from an article about Spirit in Relix magazine by Tom Lounges.).
This page was last modified on June 05, 2011