In Memoriam: Charlie Daniels (1936-2020)
Country music legend Charlie Daniels passed away this morning after he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83 years old.
Daniels was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and his best known recording was his 1979 single “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” which was released with The Charlie Daniels Band.
Born in Wilmington, N.C. in 1936, Daniels grew up listening to Pentecostal gospel music, bluegrass and country. In the mid-to-late-1960s, he worked as a session musician in Nashville. During that time, he played on three Bob Dylan albums (providing guitar and electric bass work), as well as playing fiddle on the Marshall Tucker Band’s early albums.
In 1973, Daniels reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the novelty song “Uneasy Rider.” Two years later, he would reach the top 30 (with The Charlie Daniels Band) with “The South’s Gonna Do It Again.” Finally, in 1979, he reached number 3 on the charts with the aforementioned “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” which also earned Daniels a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.
In 2008, Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and in 2016, he became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Charlie Daniels was a reverential innovator. He was a fiddle-playing bandleader, like King of Country Music Roy Acuff. His music fused the immediacy of Southern Rock with the classic country storytelling that he heard as a child in Wilmington, North Carolina,” said Kyle Young the CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (via press release). “He brought new audiences to country music, pointing people to the sources even as he explored the edges. He was also a delight to be around, always with wife Hazel at his side. Just as fiddler Johnny did in the famous song, Charlie Daniels beat the Devil.”
Daniels is survived by his wife, Hazel, and son Charlie Daniels Jr.