Charlie Daniels, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame best known for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died Monday morning after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83.
Daniels’ death was confirmed by his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs. He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and son Charlie Daniels Jr.
By the time the Charlie Daniels Band topped the charts with “Devil” in 1979, the instrumentalist, singer and songwriter had long established a remarkable, multifaceted career in Music City. As a session musician, he played on three of Bob Dylan’s albums – including the revolutionary “Nashville Skyline” – as well as recordings for Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen.
At the other end of that 60-plus year career, Daniels used more of his voice in support of U.S. veterans, and was known to speak out on their behalf on social media until his final days.
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In 1974, he launched the first “Volunteer Jam,” a regular all-star concert that has continued for nearly 50 years. Daniels joined the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.
Upon its release in 1979, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” didn’t just top the country chart, it became a huge pop crossover hit – climbing up to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart behind The Knack’s “My Sharona” and Earth Wind and Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone.” It gained even greater ubiquity one year later, when Daniels and his band performed it in the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy.”
“I get a chance to play it better tonight than I did last night and better tomorrow night than I did tonight,” Daniels said in 2016 of the song’s famous fiddle solo. “I haven’t played it perfect yet. I am in love with walking on stage and entertaining people with songs I have written. It’s one of the few times in my life that I feel like I know what I’m doing.”
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