Charles Edward Daniels (October 28, 1936 – July 6, 2020) was a popular American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist known for his contributions to Southern rock, country, and bluegrass music. He was best known for his number-one country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Daniels was active as a singer and musician since the 1950s. He was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2002, the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.
1 Early life
5 Personal life and death
9 External links
Daniels was born October 28, 1936, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and raised on a musical diet that included Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands, and the rhythm & blues and country music from Nashville's 50,000-watt radio stations WLAC and WSM (AM). In 2016, he shared memories of his youth and baseball in Wilmington when he wrote the foreword for a book on the Tobacco State League. As a teenager, Daniels moved to the small town of Gulf, Chatham County, North Carolina. He graduated from high school in 1955. Already skilled on guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, he formed a rock 'n' roll band and hit the road.
In 1964, Daniels co-wrote "It Hurts Me" (a song which Elvis Presley recorded) with his friend, producer Bob Johnston, under Bob's wife's name, Joy Byers. He worked as a Nashville session musician, often for Johnston, including playing guitar and electric bass on three Bob Dylan albums during 1969 and 1970, and on recordings by Leonard Cohen. Daniels recorded his first solo album, Charlie Daniels, in 1971 (see 1971 in country music). He also produced the 1969 album by the Youngbloods, Elephant Mountain.
His first hit, the novelty song "Uneasy Rider", was from his 1973 third album, Honey in the Rock, and reached No.9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Daniels in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California
During this period, Daniels played fiddle on many of the Marshall Tucker Band's early albums: "A New Life", "Where We All Belong", "Searchin' For a Rainbow", "Long Hard Ride" and "Carolina Dreams". Daniels can be heard on the live portion of the "Where We All Belong" album, recorded in Milwaukee on July 31, 1974. The same year, he organized the first in a series of Volunteer Jam concerts based in or around Nashville, Tennessee, often playing with members of Barefoot Jerry. Except for a three-year gap in the late 1980s, the Jams continued until 1996. In 1999, the first of several Volunteer Jam Tours began, and in 2015, a Jam celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first Volunteer Jam was held at Bridgestone Arena, and another followed in 2016 celebrating his 80th birthday. In 1975, he had a top 30 hit as leader of the Charlie Daniels Band with the Southern rock self-identification anthem "The South's Gonna Do It Again". "Long Haired Country Boy" was a minor hit in that year. Daniels played fiddle on Hank Williams, Jr.'s 1975 album Hank Williams, Jr. and Friends.
Daniels won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1979 for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1979. The following year, "Devil" became a major crossover success on rock radio stations after its inclusion on the soundtrack for the hit movie Urban Cowboy, in which he made an onscreen appearance. The song still receives regular airplay on U.S. classic rock and country stations. A hard rock/heavy metal cover version of the song was included in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as the final guitar battle against the last boss (Lou, the devil). Daniels has openly stated his opposition to the metal cover and the devil winning occasionally in the game.
In 1993, Daniels teamed up with fiddler Mark O'Connor to record a sequel to Daniels' 1979 single "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" entitled "The Devil Came Back To Georgia". Daniels played the fiddle alongside O'Connor,
while Johnny Cash, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt sung the lyrics. The song was on O'Connor's album, Heroes.
Subsequent Daniels pop hits included "In America" (#11 in 1980), "The Legend of Wooley Swamp" (#31 in 1980), and "Still in Saigon" (#22 in 1982). In 1980, Daniels participated in the country music concept album, The Legend of Jesse James. In the late 1980s and 1990s, several of Daniels' albums and singles were hits on the Country charts and the music continues to receive airplay on country stations today. Daniels released several Gospel and Christian records. In 1999, he made a guest vocal appearance on his song "All Night Long" with Montgomery Gentry (Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry) for their debut album, "Tattoos and Scars," which was a commercial success.
Daniels' distinctive speaking voice was used in Frank Wildhorn's 1999 musical, The Civil War. He is featured in the Prologue and "In Great Deeds". Daniels was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
Daniels at Louisville Waterfront Park, Kentucky, April 29, 2009
In 2000, he composed and performed the score for the feature film Across the Line starring Brad Johnson. He guest starred as himself on two episodes of King of the Hill, "Peggy's Fan Fair," which aired on May 21, 2000 and "The Bluegrass is Always Greener", which aired on February 24, 2002. In 2005, he made a cameo appearance along with Larry the Cable Guy, Kid Rock, and Hank Williams, Jr. in Gretchen Wilson's music video for the song "All Jacked Up" as well as making a musical guest appearance in the Veggietales episode "Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush", by writing, producing, and performing the Minnesota Cuke theme song. In 2006, he appeared with Little Richard, Bootsy Collins, and other musicians as the backup band for Williams' opening sequence to Monday Night Football.
On October 18, 2005, Daniels was honored as a BMI Icon at the 53rd annual BMI Country Awards. Throughout his career, Daniels' songwriting has garnered 6 BMI Country Awards; the first award was won in 1976 for "The South's Gonna Do It Again".
In November 2007, Daniels was invited by Martina McBride to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was inducted by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith during the January 19, 2008, edition of the Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.
Daniels now resides in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, where the city has named a park after him. He continues to tour regularly. He appeared in commercials for UPS in 2002 with other celebrities convincing NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett to race the UPS Truck. In 2009, Daniels was featured playing fiddle in a television commercial for GEICO auto insurance.
William Joel "Taz" DiGregorio, Daniels' keyboardist, died in a car accident in Cheatham County, Tennessee, on October 12, 2011.
In October 2016, Daniels officially became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame along with fellow tar heels Randy Travis and producer Fred Foster. In March 2017, HarperCollins announced that Daniels' memoir, Never Look at the Empty Seats, would be released on October 24, 2017.
On October 26, 2018, Daniels released a new side album project that was not solo or CDB, but a new band called Beau Weevils, along with CDB bass player, Charlie Hayward, producer James Stroud on drums and Billy Crain on guitar. The new band's debut album is titled Songs in the Key of E. On November 6, 2018, Daniels released a book of daily inspirational quotes and stories titled Let's All Make The Day Count: The Everyday Wisdom of Charlie Daniels through HarperCollins' Thomas Nelson imprint.
Daniels' music encompassed bluegrass, country, rock, Southern rock, outlaw country, country rock, blues rock, rock and roll, blues and gospel.
Daniels performing at U.S. Naval Station Great Lakes, September 11, 2003
Daniels' public politics have been varied and idiosyncratic, tending toward in his late career a general rightward progression. His earliest hit, "Uneasy Rider," portrayed him as a country boy in the counterculture movement, caught in an argument with right-wingers at a "redneck" bar. "The South's Gonna Do It Again" had a mild message of Southern cultural identity within the Southern rock movement. Daniels was an early supporter of Jimmy Carter's presidential bid and performed at his January 1977 inauguration.
"In America" was a reaction to the 1979–1981 Iran Hostage Crisis and the troubled American economy of the later 1970s; despite the turmoil the song described a patriotic, united America where "we'll all stick together and you can take that to the bank/That's the cowboys and the hippies and the rebels and the yanks." The song experienced a revival following the September 11 attacks, when it appeared on the internet as "F*** Bin Laden".
In 1989, Daniels' country hit "Simple Man" was interpreted by some as advocating vigilantism. Lyrics such as "Just take them rascals out in the swamp/Put 'em on their knees and tie 'em to a stump/Let the rattlers and the bugs and the alligators do the rest," garnered Daniels considerable media attention and talk show visits.
In 2003, Daniels published an Open Letter to the Hollywood Bunch in defense of President George W. Bush's Iraq policy. His 2003 book Ain't No Rag: Freedom, Family, and the Flag contains this letter as well as many other personal statements. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Daniels said that having never served in the military himself, he did not have the right to criticize John Kerry's service record but that Kerry should allow the release of his official military record to establish the truth or falsehood of allegations from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. His band's official website contains a "soapbox" page, where Daniels has made statements such as the following: "In the future Darwinism will be looked upon as we now look upon the flat earth theory" and "I am more afraid of you and your ilk than I am of the terrorists" regarding U.S. Senator Harry Reid. On March 27, 2009, Daniels criticized the Obama Administration for "changing the name of the War on Terror to the "Overseas Contingency Operation" and referring to terrorism as "man-caused disasters."
In 2019, Daniels lambasted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing the Reproductive Health Act, which legalized abortion until birth under some circumstances, tweeting, "Watch the wrinkles on Cuomo’s face lengthen as the ramifications of the thousands of murders he has sanctioned come to bear on him. The NY legislature has created a new Auschwitz dedicated to the execution of a whole segment of defenseless citizens. Satan is smiling."
Personal life and death
Daniels enjoyed hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and other outdoor activities. He was a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and has performed on their videos. He married his wife, Hazel, on September 20, 1964. Together, they have one son, Charlie Daniels, Jr.
Daniels suffered a major arm injury on January 30, 1980, while digging fence post holes on his farm near Mount Juliet, where he lived. He suffered three complete breaks in his right arm, and two broken fingers when his shirtsleeve caught on a spinning auger. The injury required surgery, and sidelined him for four months.
Daniels was successfully treated for prostate cancer in 2001. On January 15, 2010, Daniels was rushed to the hospital after suffering a stroke while snowmobiling in Colorado. He recovered and was released two days later.
During a doctor visit on March 25, 2013, Daniels was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia and admitted to a Nashville hospital for a series of routine tests. The tests revealed that a pacemaker was needed to regulate his heart rate. One was put in on March 28 and Daniels was released from hospital within days.
Daniels was an avid University of Tennessee sports fan.
Daniels died on July 6, 2020, of a hemorrhagic stroke at 83 years old.
The Nashville Sound (1970) ... Himself
Heartworn Highways (1976) ... Himself
Murder in Music City aka The County Western Murders (1979) ... Himself
Urban Cowboy (1980) ... Himself
Saturday Night Live (1982) ... Himself (Musical Guest)
The Fall Guy (1983) ... Himself
The Lone Star Kid (1985) ... Vernon Matthews
Murder, She Wrote (1987) ... Stoney Carmichael
Charlie Daniels' Talent Roundup (1994) ... Himself (Host)
King of the Hill (2000) ... Himself (2 Episodes)
18 Wheels of Justice (2000) ... Frank Schooler
The Legend Lives On: A Tribute to Bill Monroe (2003) ... Himself
Fox NFL Sunday (2005) - Super Bowl XXXIX Pregame Show ... Himself
Veggietales (2005) ... Himself (Musical Guest) ("Minnesota Cuke and the search for Samson's hairbrush")
Dinner: Impossible (2008) ... Himself
Poliwood (2009) ... Himself
A Twin Pines Christmas (2009) ... Himself
Sweet Home Alabama: The Southern Rock Saga (2012) ... Himself
IRON WILL: Veterans Battle With PTSD (2016) ... Himself
Floating Horses: The Life of Casey Tibbs (2017) ... Himself
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2017) ... Himself
Country Music (2019) ... Himself
Main article: Charlie Daniels discography
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