Charlie Daniels would have been 84-years-old today. The famous fiddler player and musician was born on Oct. 28, 1936. Daniels passed away on July 6, 2020, following a stroke. He was known for his signature cowboy hat and deep baritone voice. He could also play a fiddle like almost no one else in the industry, and his skills soon made him an icon.
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was both Daniels’ most popular and most iconic song. The tune featured a hot-shot fiddle player whose skills outmatched even the devil himself. And with Daniels behind the music, that certainly felt true. The artist released the song in 1979 to much acclaim.
Charlie Daniels Played With a Band Called The Jaguars
Born in North Carolina, Daniels fell in love with music from an early age. He learned how to play the fiddle and guitar and started performing in bands as a teenager. When he was 21, he assembled a rock and roll band called the Jaguars. The group recorded an album with Epic Records in 1959. But the band failed to attract much wide-spread appeal.
During this time, Daniels continued writing music and performing. In 1963, Elvis Presley recorded one of his songs called “It Hurts Me,” giving Daniels a taste of success.
He Became Well Known For the Fiddle
After the Jaguars failed to launch, Daniels decided to move to Nashville in the late 1960s. There, he gained work as a session musician and soon became known for his skills behind the fiddle. During this time, he played in the band for Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen. He featured on Starr’s 1970 album Beaucoups of Blues and four of Dylan’s albums.
In the 1960s, Daniels met his wife and love of his life, Hazel. The two had one son together: Charlie Daniels Jr.
Around this time, he also produced the Youngbloods’ Elephant Mountain album. Daniels also tried to strike out on his own as a musician, but he failed once again to find an audience.
Daniels Formed the Charlie Daniels Band in the 1970s
He followed that up with Fire on the Mountain in 1974. The album went platinum. In 1975, the band released Nightrider, which featured the first Top 40 song for Daniels. Daniels seemed to be on a roll, capitalizing on the band’s popularity with Saddle Tramp in 1976. The album entered the Top Ten on the country chart.
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” Was Charlie Daniels’ Biggest Hit
While the band continued to be successful in the 1970s, they didn’t have a mega-hit like other bands of the era. As music tastes began to change, the Charlie Daniels Band transformed into a country band. In 1979, they released “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which proved to be the most popular of Daniels’ career.
The song shot to the top of the country chart and also crossed over into the pop chart. The song went multiplatinum and won the CMA Award for Single of the Year.
Daniels Continued To Perform Until His Death
As Daniels entered the 1990s and 2000s, his music failed to chart but he continued to entertain audiences with his concerts. Throughout the rest of his career, Daniels produced music that often defied genre boundaries and expectations. In 2003, he released the song “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s a Flag,” which commented on the Iraq War.
Charlie Daniels Passed Away in July 2020
He planned to perform a Volunteer Jam concert in 2020. But the concert was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 6, 2020, Daniels passed away after a stroke. “I just thank God I can make a living doing something I enjoy as much as I do playing music,” Daniels once said.
[H/T: All Music]