The iconic singer, songwriter, and musician was not only a pioneer of the genre but also an inspiration and friend to many of his country music colleagues.
Born in North Carolina, Daniels started his music career playing bluegrass music with the Misty Mountain Boys before moving to Nashville in the late 1960s. Daniels quickly became a hit songwriter, writing songs for Elvis and other big names at the time.
As he was recognized for his unbridled songwriting ability, his vocal ability also gained recognition leading him to sign with Capitol Records and record a self-titled solo album. The success of that album led to the formation of the widely known Charlie Daniels Band.
The Charlie Daniels Band formed the Southern rock sound with hits like “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” “Long Haired Country Boy,” “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye,” and “Simple Man.” Their music was raw, relatable, and embodied the new wave of outlaw country meeting rock and roll. The Charlie Daniels Band was able to bottle it up, and people loved it.
By the end of his career, Daniels had performed over 100 times at the Grand Ole Opry and was nominated for and won countless Grammy Awards, CMA Awards, ACM Awards, and American Music Awards. In 2016 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the following year announced his memoir Never Look at the Empty Seats.
This impressive list just skims the surface of all the accolades that Daniels had to his name. Daniels often looked at what he could do as a gift rather than a job. He was born to be an entertainer and loved the feeling of bringing people together through the music he produced.
“I love what I do, I look forward to entertaining people. When show time gets here, I’m ready to go, ready to go play for them. It’s a labor of love.
I just thank God I make a living at what I enjoy doing.”
Outside of music, Charlie Daniels was also involved with his community and active with many charities.
I vividly remember while growing up in Nashville, Charlie Daniels would kindly donate one of his foals each year from his ranch, Twin Pines Ranch, to my local 4-H project’s fundraiser auction. We saw so many of his paint horses in later years in 4-H horse shows from members that had purchased them.
Charlie also noted how important using his status to give back was, saying:
“I have a very unique opportunity because of being in the music community.
You try to give back to some extent. I do feel like people should. We should all do as much as we can.”
In his final interview just days before his passing, Charlie talked with fellow country star John Rich about the importance of his Christian faith through his many battles, including many health struggles, that he faced throughout his life:
“If I didn’t have the Lord in my life, I don’t know where I’d be. I really don’t know where I’d be.
And there’s been times in my life when I did not have the Lord in my life, and bad things would happen, and I wouldn’t know — you know, you don’t know where to go, you don’t know what to do. But I learned, what my motto nowadays is, we try to walk by faith and not by sight.”
And his son Charlie Daniels Jr., shared a touching tribute to his father today on the anniversary of his passing:
“ON THIS DAY in 2020, we lost a music icon, patriot, songwriter, devoted husband, the best father imaginable, dear friend to many who was also adored by his countless fans. You are missed terribly. We will always try to make the day count, and keep your legacy alive. I love you and miss you, Dad. -CD, Jr.”
While it has been three years since his death, Charlie’s legacy is far from leaving this earth. With many of today’s artists drawing inspiration from his sound, you can hear the impact of Charlie Daniels in much of the music you listen to currently.
Not to mention his discography is still constantly played, loved, and shared by country music fans.
God Bless Charlie Daniels.
Below are just a few of my favorite Charlie Daniels moments.
“Long Haired Country Boy” live from 2011.
“Texas” from 1975.
Discussing writing his hit “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”