Charles Edward Daniels (October 28, 1936 – July 6, 2020), known as Charlie Daniels, was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist who played Southern rock, country, and bluegrass music. He was best known for his number-one country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.
Charles Edward (Charlie) Daniels was born October 28, 1936, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and was raised listening to various musical styles including Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands, and the rhythm & blues and country music from Nashville’s WLAC and WSM radio stations.
As a teenager, Charlie moved to the small town of Gulf in Chatham County, North Carolina. He graduated from high school in 1955, and was already skilled on guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, so he formed a rock ‘n’ roll band and hit the road.
In 1964, Charlie Daniels co-wrote “It Hurts Me”, which was first released as a single by Elvis Presley on February 1964, with his friend, producer Bob Johnston, although it was Bob’s wife who was credited as the writer. Charlie worked as a Nashville session musician including playing guitar and electric bass on three Bob Dylan albums during 1969 and 1970, and on recordings by Leonard Cohen.
Charlie Daniels recorded his first solo album called “Charlie Daniels”, in 1971. His first hit, which reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, was the novelty song “Uneasy Rider”, from his 1973 third album, “Honey in the Rock”.
Charlie Daniels played fiddle on many of the Marshall Tucker Band’s early albums including “A New Life”, “Where We All Belong”, “Searchin’ For a Rainbow”, “Long Hard Ride” and “Carolina Dreams”, and he can be heard on the live portion of the “Where We All Belong” album, recorded in Milwaukee on July 31, 1974.
In 1975, he had a top 30 hit with his own band, the Charlie Daniels Band, with the Southern rock anthem “The South’s Gonna Do It Again”. Charlie Daniels also played fiddle on Hank Williams, Jr.’s 1975 album “Hank Williams, Jr. and Friends”.
In 1979 Charlie Daniels won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1979. The following year, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” became a major crossover success on rock radio stations after its inclusion on the soundtrack for the hit movie Urban Cowboy, in which Daniels made a brief appearance. The song still receives a lot of airplay on U.S. classic rock and country stations, and a hard rock/heavy metal version of it was included in the video game “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” as the final guitar battle against the last boss (Lou, the devil).
In 1993, Charlie Daniels teamed up with fiddler Mark O’Connor to record a sequel to “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” called “The Devil Came Back To Georgia”. Daniels played the fiddle alongside O’Connor, and Johnny Cash, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt sung the lyrics. The song was on O’Connor’s album, “Heroes”.
In 1999, Charlie Daniels made a guest vocal appearance on his song “All Night Long” with Montgomery Gentry for their debut album, “Tattoos and Scars,” he was also inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
In 2000, he composed and performed the score for the feature film “Across the Line” starring Brad Johnson, he also 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”.
On October 18, 2005, Daniels was honored at the 53rd annual BMI Country Awards as a BMI Icon, having won 6 BMI Country Awards throughout his career.
In November 2007, Charlie Daniels was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry by Martina McBride, and he was inducted at the Ryman Auditorium by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith during the January 19, 2008, edition of the Opry.
In October 2016, Charlie Daniels officially became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame along with 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 with a new band called Beau Weevils and their debut album was called “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
Charlie Daniels died at Summit Medical Center in Nashville on July 6, 2020, of a hemorrhagic stroke, at the age of 83.
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