Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels Dies at 83 (1936-2020)

K.F. Raizor, author of the website Raizor's Edge and the book We Can't Sing and We Ain't Funny: The World of Homer and Jethro is our guest writer today on That Nashville Sound. She's ever so gracious to provide wonderful tributes to honor those to whom the music we treasure just wouldn't be the same without. Thank you, K.F.

Country music has lost its third Hall of Famer this year with the death of Charlie Daniels.

Daniels died this morning (July 6) after suffering a stroke, according to his publicist.

Charles Edward Daniels, the proud Tennessean, was actually born in North Carolina on October 28, 1936.  Growing up in the Tar Heel State he learned music of all forms: the country music blaring from WSM in Nashville, the down-home picking of bluegrass, as well as the R&B and fledgling rock and roll.  Becoming proficient on the guitar and fiddle, Daniels absorbed it all.

He began his career as a session man, playing bass and guitar on Bob Dylan's groundbreaking Nashville Skyline album in 1969.  He also went to work as a producer, heading the album Elephant Mountain for the folk-rock group the Youngbloods.

After a couple of albums on his own, his third release, Honey in the Rock, yielded his first hit, the "talking blues" novelty song "Uneasy Rider."  The tune was about a counter-culture hero who has a run-in with the stereotypical southern "rednecks" (his own term in the lyrics), who want to fight the protagonist because of his long hair and the "peace sign, the mag wheels, and four on the floor" car he's driving.  Certainly in danger of being banned in today's culture, the song was hilarious (with its ending of deciding to get to Los Angeles from Jackson, Mississippi via Omaha).  

Understandably, the song, while a pop top ten song, didn't do all that well in the conservative country music realm (where songs like "Okie From Muskogee" and "The Fightin' Side of Me" were still getting airplay).  In fact, two subsequent Daniels singles, "Texas" and "Wichita Jail," both did much better on the country charts than "Uneasy Rider."

However, in 1979, there was no stopping Daniels, thanks to another "talking blues" song about a fiddle contest between Satan and a southern boy named Johnny.  "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" was a chart-topper in country music, and only kept out of the #1 position in pop by the 1979 song of the year, "My Sharona" by the Knack.

Among Daniels' lasting contributions to the American musical landscape was the Volunteer Jam, which he began in 1974 for a group of southern rock and country-rock acts to get together and party through music.  This year's Volunteer Jam, scheduled to be held on September 15 (COVID-19 permitting), will be a "Musical Salute" to the man who made us laugh (such as his Geico commercial, where he took a French restaurant's violinist's instrument away to play "Hoedown" to show the man "that's how you do it, son"), think (his musings on his website's "Soap Box" feature), and sing along for seven decades.

So many genres can claim him that it's no wonder much of the musical world is in mourning over the loss of this giant.  He loved his country roots and his southern rock roots.  In "The South's Gonna Do It Again" he honored both, naming practically every southern rock band in existence at the time (some, such as Grinderswitch [from Macon, not named for Minnie Pearl's hometown] had their biggest success by being mentioned in the song, while others like Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top made the Rock Hall of fame) while playing some terrific fiddle.  He closed the song by telling everyone:

All the good people down in Tennessee
Are diggin' Barefoot Jerry and the CDB.

Charlie Daniels was 83.

"The passing of Charlie Daniels is not only a huge loss for the industry but a personal loss. Charlie has been a personal friend throughout our career and we consider him family. Charlie was a patriot that stood for the good of all men. Charlie, you will be missed my friend."
-Jeff Cook, ALABAMA (Country Music Hall of Fame member)

"From the eighties until last year, I've had the pleasure of not only touring with but getting to know Charlie Daniels. He was everything on stage a great artist should be. But it was the off stage Charlie I grew to love over the years. Many times Charlie would answer the call to do charity work and never charge a cent. He set a humble example of what a man, a friend, and Christian should be by the way he treated others. I’m gonna miss you my friend."
-Teddy Gentry, ALABAMA (Country Music Hall of Fame member)

“Nobody I respected or admired, in this world, any MORE than my real friend, Charlie Daniels.”
-Randy Owen, ALABAMA (Country Music Hall of Fame member)

"One of my favorite people on this earth Charlie Daniels has gone on to his eternal reward today. Oh, how he will be missed at the Grand Ole Opry and everywhere else he was loved. Charlie, thank you for being a Patriot, a Statesman, a Christian, a friend, a father, a husband to Miss Hazel, and a great maker of music that will live on for generations. You made an indelible mark in this life, and you will be missed my brother."
-Ricky Skaggs (Country Music Hall of Fame member)

"Charlie Daniels embodied the fire of the South. He blurred lines between rock and country, when rock didn't think country was cool, and his Volunteer Jams weren't just legendary, they brought people from both of those worlds together. He was a patriot, a proud American, a world class musician, an incredible showman, as well as a wonderful father, husband, grandpa and friend. We're all so sad to lose him, but if I know Charlie, he's up in heaven, rosining up his bow and getting ready to let those fingers fly! Godspeed, my friend, you're home."
-Ronnie Milsap (Country Music Hall of Fame member)

“It is a sad day for a southern gentleman. A soft spoken Godly man. A man I have known for 50 years. Yes my heart is broken but Hazel and Charlie Jr. have all of us holding them with the strength that Mr. Daniels has given us through the years. We are missing a man that already has the hands of his great God holding him. I have no words.”
-Doug Gray, The Marshall Tucker Band

"If there were a Southern Rock/Country/GOD fearing Patriot/Good old boy on Mt. Rushmore, Charlie Daniels likeness would be hammered, chiseled, and blasted onto it. We would follow him into battle. We would not follow him on stage. We couldn’t... no one else could either...‘nuff said. Heaven has never rocked like its ROCKIN’ right now. Charlie old friend, we’ll see you when we do. Rock on, friend."
-Larry Gatlin 

“Charlie was outspoken and larger than life on stage. Off stage, he was kind, compassionate and helped so many along the way, both in music and beyond. A showman, a patriot, a one-of-a-kind. He will be greatly missed."
-John Anderson

"Charlie Daniels was a man of God, a voice of reason in unsettled times. He was a brother and friend. Until we meet again on the shores of the everlasting. Rest in Peace, Charlie Daniels." 
-Marty Raybon, Shenandoah

"For all of us in the music community, Charlie Daniels was like our big brother. He always took up for us and was always the one to stand up for our America. Thank you, Charlie. Go rest now. You made your mark on our world, and we will miss you."
-Mike McGuire, Shenandoah 

"It's so hard to put into words what an influence Charlie's music was on me and on everyone who ever heard it. He was an amazing man, musician, songwriter and entertainer. There was nothing he couldn't do. He will be so missed in this world. Sending prayers to Hazel and all of his family."
-Aaron Tippin

"Charlie Daniels was my friend. He was my friend on many levels and we had an unspoken understanding that if either of us ever needed the other, it was a given. Charlie was very bold about what he believed in and I am too. I’m gonna miss you old friend. I’ll tell you all about what happens when I get there. I love you and I miss you already but I’ll be there before you miss me. Say hello to Momma and enjoy your time till we meet again."
-Darryl Worley

"Charlie was one of the most talented, kindest, patriotic and spiritual people I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling a friend. Whether I was doing shows with him from the Opry stage or on a stage in far away Japan, he always remained the consummate performer. The void he leaves in our business is enormous, and I know the music he will make in heaven will be overwhelming. Rest easy my friend."
-T.G. Sheppard

"Wow... Charlie Daniels. We lost a great, great man today. But, we got to have him for a long time! A patriot! A man I have followed him for years who shared his faith and his heart daily with his friends and followers. I read his words everyday. Man, he loved this country! I will miss you, sir!"
-Larry Stewart, Restless Heart

"I'm deeply saddened by the news of Charlie Daniels' passing. I lost my mother seven years ago to a hemorrhagic stroke; the shock only ever softened by knowing she was with her Lord. The same can be said for Charlie, who lived a vivid and bold life for God and country. Restless Heart is forever grateful for the many memories of working with him at his Volunteer Jam. Sending heartfelt prayers of peace and comfort to Charlie’s family, friends, and fans."
-Dave Innis, Restless Heart  

"The music community has lost one of its greatest American icons today. Charlie Daniels is one of those artists whose music will never die. He was also one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life and also a great Patriot. God bless him. Charlie Daniels was statue material."
-Sammy Kershaw

"Deeply saddened by the news today of Charlie Daniels' passing. Charlie Daniels was a true patriot, a man of God and a great American. To call him a musical icon is a gross understatement. A pioneer in the southern rock movement of the 70s, leading the Charlie Daniels Band, his bold and musically impressive songwriting, spawning legendary hits like ‘The South’s Gonna Do it Again,’ ‘Long Haired Country Boy,’ ‘In America,’ and, of course, ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ and many, many others that have already stood the test of time as some of the greatest, most iconic records in the history of rock-n-roll AND country music. I’m so incredibly honored to have been included in Charlie’s final music video of ‘Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues’ with his band, the Beau Weevils. I certainly didn’t expect it to be his last. Our industry has a huge void in it today. A great man of principal, honor, integrity and faith, who always told it like it is. There will never ever be another Charlie Daniels. My prayers go upward for his entire family. Rest in peace, Charlie."
-Collin Raye

"Charlie Daniels was the John Wayne of Southern Rock, Rhythm and Blues. He always put the love of playing music above the business of music. And one more thing, he loved America!"

-Billy Dean

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