The Steel Woods guitarist, Jason Cope, dies at 42.
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The Steel Woods guitarist, Jason Cope, dies at 42.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 – Jason "Rowdy" Cope, guitarist for The Steel Woods, died on Saturday at 42.

Cope also had played with Jamie Johnson for nine years and wrote with him. No cause of death was given.

The Steel Woods announced on social media, "We are writing this still in a state of shock and kindly ask for your prayers for the family, friends and band at this time. We take comfort in knowing he is in a better place now and his passion for music and art will live forever in the work he has left behind. RIP Rowdy, you will be forever and greatly missed." The band combines Outlaw and southern rock.

Cope, a North Carolina native, played on Johnson's albums "That Lonesome Song" and "The Guitar Song" and co-wrote "The Guitar Song" track "Can't Cash My Checks."

"I love James Brown as much as I love bluegrass as much as I love Bill Monroe. I like good music," Cope said on the band's website. "I guess we're a classic rock band. We're just not old enough to be classic rock."

Singer Brent Cobb offered his condolences. "When I landed in L.A., the first time ever leaving Georgia in '06, Rowdy Jason Cope picked me up from the airport. He gave me a couch to sleep on at his apartment and never asked for anything. He was my first friend in the bigger world."

"We'd sit up late night eating Marie Callender pot pies, writing songs and really listening to music like it was the only thing in life that mattered. Townes Van Zandt, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Waylon Jennings mostly. We were in that room when he wrote "axe". It's where "let the rain come down" began. He schooled me on everything. He gave me an education you can't teach unless you lived it. He lived it. And he shared it with anyone willing to learn. He taught me how to grow up, really. He'd always say the secret to success was 'keeping irons in the fire'. He was the real damn deal. It's hard to accept that he's gone. He'll be very sorely missed. RIP Brother Rowd."

Johnson wrote, "He and I met around the fall of 2006 and were instantly the best of friends. He played guitar with the heart and soul of a virtuoso and the passion of a freedom fighter. He played because his huge heart overflowed with love and life and rage and healing. As a guitarist he was a force, as a songwriter he was an emotion with a pen, as a friend he was loyal and dependable to the end and as for me, he was my brother. Rest easy Rowdy."

Cope first started playing at 11 and wrote his first song shortly thereafter. After eight years working as a Los Angeles-based musician, he moved to Nashville in 2007 and joined Johnson's band.

The Steel Woods lead singer Wes Bayliss and Cope first met playing in a cover band. They eventually wound up working together, adding bassist Johnny Stanton and original drummer Jay Tooke. An eponymous EP came out in 2016, and the next year saw the release of "Straw in the Wind" on Thirty Tigers/Woods Music. "Old News" came out in 2019. The group was working on a third studio album.


CD reviews for The Steel Woods

CD review - Old News It sort of seems odd, on the surface anyway, that the Steel Woods would name their sophomore set "Old News," especially given the fact that they're relatively new as far as any senior status is concerned. Their 2017 full length debut, "Straw in the Wind," was released less than two years ago, while their 2016 eponymous EP that marked their debut only a short time before that. Old news? They haven't aged sufficiently enough to indicate that's the case at all. ...


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