On This Day, Country Star Charlie Daniels Dies at Age 83: Remembering His Career & Legacy

On July 6, 2020, American country legend Charles Edward Daniels (known professionally as Charlie Daniels) passed away at the age of 83. He was a man known for so much more than just being a country singer. He was a legendary songwriter and musician who fused elements of country with rock, blues, and jazz. He’s also heralded as one of the pioneers of “Southern rock”, which birthed the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, and many more.

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Charlie Daniels was born in North Carolina. His interest in music started quite young when he found inspiration in local bluegrass outfits, Pentecostal gospel choirs, and R&B artists on the radio. Daniels was also inspired by Western cinema as well.

Charlie Daniels’ Career is a Career Worth Celebrating

Daniels’ music career started in the late 1950s. Before he joined the Misty Mountain Boys, his first band, he was already a proficient multi-instrumentalist on the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and fiddle. Daniels experimented with rock and roll music in the 1960s. He soon formed The Jaguars (formerly The Rockets), where he landed his first hit.

Daniels went on to write music for a number of other performers as a “sideman”. Some of these artists include Jerry Jackson and Elvis Presley. He soon moved to Nashville to become a session musician for Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Leonard Cohen, and more.

By the 1970s, Daniels had released his debut solo album. It has since been heralded as one of the earliest and most successful examples of Southern rock. He formed the Charlie Daniels Band and landed a hit on the charts with “Uneasy Rider”.

Then, in 1979, Daniels released what is now considered one of the most legendary Southern rock/country songs of all time: “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”. The song shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and scored a Grammy for Daniels. President Jimmy Carter was even a self-proclaimed fan.

Later in his career, Charlie Daniels slowed down, though his live performances continued to draw large audiences. He recorded for several independent labels and experimented with gospel and Western swing music.

Daniels was active as a musician for over six decades until his death. He has since been inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Grand Ole Opry. 

Here’s to Charlie Daniels!

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

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