The world of country music took another hit yesterday as the sad news spread that country star Charlie Daniels had died. The singer/songwriter and fiddle player who is best known for his song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” died of a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83 years old.
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Daniels was born in Wilmington, N. Carolina in 1936. He started out playing bluegrass with a local band called the Misty Mountain Boys and achieved some success co-writing the Elvis Presley song “It Hurts Me” In 1964. Daniels decided to further pursue his musical dream and moved to Nashville in 1967.
In the next few years, Daniels resume would continue to grow. He played guitar and bass on Bob Dylan’s 1969 project “Nashville Skyline”. He also worked with George Harrison, Leonard Cohen and others. Eventually, he went on to form his own band, The Charlie Daniels band.
As the leader of The Charlie Daniels band, Daniels began hosting a Volunteer Jam in Nashville in 1974. The jam took off to gain festival status featuring artists like John Prine, Lynyrd Skynyrd, James Brown, Emmylou Harris, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Carl Perkins.
Daniels also enjoyed success with his own band. His hit song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” stood out for it’s catchy rhythm and its lyrics which had Charlie engaged in a fiddle battle with the devil where his soul was the prize. It went on to earn Daniels a Grammy in 1979.
Daniels and his band also appeared in the film “Urban Cowboy” in 1980. During their appearance, they performed the famous song and succeeded to introduce it to an even wider audience.
Later in life, Daniels remained a relevant presence in the country music industry and also became closely aligned with politics. He was supportive of veterans’ causes and founded The Journey Home Project in 2014. The charity works to support veterans when they return from the services.
Daniels’ political views were somewhat controversial. He was supportive of the NRA and made commercials for the organization which were less than approving of Obama’s job as president.
More recently, Daniels was taken off the Country Freedom Concert in Nashville which honored September 11 rescue workers. Concert organizers took him off the bill when they found out he was going to unveil his new single “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s a Flag” during his performance. They thought lyrics like “This ain’t no rag, it’s a flag and we don’t wear it on our head” might not sit well with everyone attending.
Despite his controversial political stance, Daniels continued to be honored in the country music world. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. His last music project was a collaboration with Beau Weevils. He performed on a quarantine edition of a song on Weevils’ album “Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues” just last month.
Daniels is definitely someone to be remembered. Many in the country music industry will mourn his loss.