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Charles Edward "Charlie" Daniels (born on October 28, 1936) is an American musician known for his contributions to country and southern rock music. He is perhaps best known for his number one country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", and multiple other songs he has written and performed. Daniels has been active as a singer since the early 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009.
Career[edit source | edit]Edit
Daniels is a singer, guitarist, and fiddler, who began writing and performing in the 1950s. In 1964, Daniels co-wrote "It Hurts Me" (a song which Elvis Presley recorded) with Joy Byers. He worked as a Nashville session musician, often for producer Bob Johnston, including playing 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 (see 1971 in country music). He produced the 1969 album by The Youngbloods, Elephant Mountain and played the violin on "Darkness, Darkness".Daniels in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California
During this period, Daniels played fiddle on many of The Marshall Tucker Band's early albums: "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, recorded in Milwaukee, WI on July 11, 1974.
In 1974, Daniels organized the first in a series of Volunteer Jam concerts based in or around Nashville, Tennessee, often playing with members of Barefoot Jerry. Except for a three-year gap in the late 1980s, these jams have continued ever since.
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". "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 No. 3 on the Hot 100 in September 1979. The following year, "Devil" became a major crossover success on rock radio stations after its inclusion on the soundtrack for the hit movieUrban Cowboy. Daniels appeared in the movie. The song is by far Daniels' greatest success, still receiving regular airplay on U.S. classic rock and country stations, and is well-known even among audiences who eschew country music in general. 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" (#11 in 1980), "The Legend of Wooley Swamp" (#31 in 1980), and "Still in Saigon" (#22 in 1982). In 1980, Daniels participated in the country music concept album, The Legend of Jesse James.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, several of Daniels' albums and singles were hits on the Country charts and the 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 commercial success.
In 2000, he composed and performed the score for the feature film Across the Line starring Brad Johnson. He guest starred as himself in an episode of King of the Hill titled “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". 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; 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. He was inducted by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith during the January 19, 2008, edition of the Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.
Daniels now resides in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, where the city has named a park after him. Daniels continues to tour regularly. Daniels appeared in commercials for UPS in 2001 with other celebrities convincing NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett to race the UPS Truck.
William Joel "Taz" DiGregorio, Daniels' keyboardist, died in a car accident in Cheatham County, Tennessee, on 12 October 2011.
Political statements[edit source | edit]EditCharlie Daniels performing at U.S. Naval Station Great Lakes, September 11, 2003
"The South's Gonna Do It" had a mild message of Southern cultural identity within the Southern rock movement. Daniels was an early supporter of Jimmy Carter's presidential bid and performed at his January 1977 inauguration.
"In America" was a reaction to the 1979–1981 Iran Hostage Crisis; it described a patriotic, united America where "we'll all stick together and you can take that to the bank / That's the cowboys and the hippies and the rebels and the yanks." The song experienced a revival following the September 11 attacks, when it was floated around the internet as "F*** Bin Laden." In contrast, "Still in Saigon" (written by Dan Daley) was an effective portrayal of the plight of the American Vietnam veteran ten years after the war; it was part of an early 1980s wave of attention to the subject, presaging treatments such as Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." and "Shut Out the Light", Billy Joel's "Goodnight Saigon", Huey Lewis and the News' "Walking on a Thin Line", Paul Hardcastle's "19" and somewhat later Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road".
In 1989, Daniels' country hit "Simple Man" was interpreted by some as advocating vigilantism. Lyrics such as "Just take them rascals [rapists, killers, child abusers] out in the swamp / Put 'em on their knees and tie 'em to a stump / Let the rattlers and the bugs and the alligators do the rest," got Daniels considerable media attention and talk show visits.
In 2003, Daniels published an Open Letter to the Hollywood Bunch in defense of President George W. Bush's Iraq policy. His 2003 book Ain't No Rag: Freedom, Family, and the Flag contains this letter as well as many other personal statements. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Daniels said that having never served in the military himself, he did not have the right to criticize John Kerry's service record, but that Kerry should allow the release of his official military record to establish the truth or falsehood of allegations from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. His band's official website contains a "soapbox" page, where Daniels has made statements such as the following: "In the future Darwinism will be looked upon as we now look upon the flat earth theory," and "I am more afraid of you and your ilk than I am of the terrorists," regarding U.S. Senator Harry Reid. On March 27, 2009, Daniels criticized the Obama Administration for "changing the name of the War on Terror to the "Overseas Contingency Operation" and referring to terrorism as "man-caused disasters"".
Daniels was born October 28, 1936, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and raised on a musical diet that included Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands and the rhythm & blues and country music from Nashville's 50,000-watt radio stations WLAC and WSM. Daniels grew up in the small town of Gulf located in Chatham County, North Carolina. His childhood home still stands in Gulf but is currently in a state of disrepair. He graduated from high school in 1955. Already skilled on guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, Daniels formed a rock 'n' roll band and hit the road.
Daniels enjoys hunting, fishing, skydiving, and other outdoor activities. He is a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Daniels married his wife, Hazel, in 1963. Together, they have one son, Charlie Daniels, Jr. On January 15, 2010, Daniels was rushed to the hospital after suffering a stroke while snowmobiling in Colorado. He recovered and was released 2 days later.
During a doctor visit on March 25, 2013, Daniels was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia and admitted to a Nashville hospital for a series of routine tests. The tests revealed that a pacemaker was needed to regulate his heart rate. One was put in on March 28 and Daniels was expected to be out of the hospital the next day.