Charlie Daniels is an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist….who was known for his contributions to Southern rock, country and bluegrass music…..as he is best known for his # 1 country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”….for Daniels has been active as a singer and musician since the 1950’s. 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.
In 1964, Daniels co-wrote “It Hurts Me”….which is a song that Elvis Presley recorded with his friend, producer Bob Johnston, under Bob’s wife’s name, Joy Byers….as Charlie 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….and 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 # 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
During this period, Daniels played fiddle on many of the Marshall Tucker Band’s early albums such as “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….which was recorded in Milwaukee on July 31, 1974…..and that same year, he organized the first in a series of Volunteer Jam concerts based in or around Nashville, Tennessee….while often playing with members of Barefoot Jerry….when except for a three-year gap in the late 1980’s, 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….as 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”…..while “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 # 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1979…..when in 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….as this song still receives regular airplay on U.S. classic rock and country stations…..and 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.
Subsequent Daniels pop hits included “In America” which reached # 11 in 1980….“The Legend of Wooley Swamp” at # 31 in 1980….and “Still in Saigon” which reached # 22 in 1982…..plus, in 1980, Daniels participated in the country music concept album, The Legend of Jesse James. In the late 1980’s and 1990’s, several of Daniels’ albums and singles were hits on the Country charts….as his 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 huge commercial success. Daniels’ distinctive speaking voice was used in Frank Wildhorn’s 1999 musical, The Civil War…..and he is featured in the Prologue and “In Great Deeds”.
In 2000, he composed and performed the score for the feature film Across the Line starring Brad Johnson….and he guest starred as himself on two episodes of King of the Hill, “Peggy’s Fan Fair”….which aired on May 21, 2000…..along with “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 a musical guest appearance in the Veggietales episode “Minnesota Cuke and the search for Samson’s hairbrush”. 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….as 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….as he was inducted by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith during the January 19, 2008, edition of the Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.
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….as the new CDB 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.