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In Memoriam - Charlie Daniels

"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and Volunteer Jam fiddler has passed
In concert, Cedar Park, Texas, Getty Images

In concert, Cedar Park, Texas, Getty Images

Charlie Daniels, who passed away on July 6 at the age of 83, debuted in the Top 40 in 1973 with a novelty tale about being a hippie fighting off a bar of rednecks called “Uneasy Rider, which reached No. 9. In 1974, his first annual Volunteer Jam concert was held in Nashville featuring The Charlie Daniels Band joined by members of The Allman Brothers Band and The Marshall Tucker Band. Charlie’s up-tempo dose of country rock, “The South’s Gonna Do It,” brought him back to the Top 40 in 1975 and reached No. 29. “Long Haired Country Boy” followed, peaking at No. 56. In 1977, Charlie performed at the presidential inauguration ceremony of fellow southerner, President Jimmy Carter. Charlie’s biggest hit arrived at the end of the decade with the fiddle driven platinum single “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which spent two weeks at No. 3 on the pop charts and became his sole country No. 1 single and the Country Music Association’s single of the year. The following year, the Grammy Award winning Charlie Daniels Band, were featured in the film Urban Cowboy and on the double album soundtrack performing that big hit and “Falling in Love for the Night.”

Charlie Daniels Urban

In the early 1980s, Charlie achieved three more Top 40 pop hits with “In America,” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and “Still in Saigon.” That decade he embraced a new mother and daughter duo, The Judds, as his opening act. Wynonna said, “Getting to open for Mr. Charlie was one of my very first memorable moments in country music. He’s an important part of my story. When Mom and I opened for Mr. Charlie, I was so young, so naive, and in awe of my heroes in country music. I spent most of my time trying to talk to, hang out with and learn everything I could from the artists we played shows with. Mr. Charlie was always so kind to me. He always made me feel so important. His heart, oh my, I adored him and loved him so much! He’d come over to me in a crowded room to hug me. He always made time for me and I respect him so much for the way he treated me and so many others in each room. During one of our moments, backstage before a show, I was talking to Mr. Charlie about how nervous I was being onstage. He told me, ‘Never look at the empty seats.’ I have not forgotten his advice. Charlie Daniels was a maverick with a heart bigger than most. He lived and he loved large!” Naomi added, “Every time I was around Charlie, I felt like I was standing next to pure country. He sang about faith, patriotism, family and having good, clean fun. I’m so grateful that I got to meet and know a truly great man."

Charlie Daniels Judds

Charlie Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. He is survived by his wife Hazel, who he married in 1964, and their son Charlie Daniels, Jr.