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Charlie Daniels (born October 28, 1936 in Wilmington, North Carolina) is an American musician famous for his contributions to country and southern rock music. He is known primarily for his Number One country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", and multiple other songs he has performed and written. Daniels has been active as a singer since the early 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008.
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 on three Bob Dylan albums during 1969 and 1970, and recordings by Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen. Daniels recorded his first solo album, Charlie Daniels, in 1971 (see 1971 in country music). His first hit, the novelty song "Uneasy Rider", was from his 1973 second album, Honey in the Rock, and reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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 also a minor hit in that year.
Daniels won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1979 for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", which reached #3 on the charts. The following year, "Devil" became a major crossover success on rock radio stations, after its inclusion on the soundtrack for the hit movie Urban Cowboy. 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 also included in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as the final guitar battle against the last boss (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 also released several Gospel and Christian records. In 1999, he co-wrote the song "All Night Long" with Montgomery Gentry, which was a commercial success.
In 2005, he has 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.
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, TN, 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. Daniels describes himself as a born again Christian.
Charlie Daniels played fiddle on many of The Marshall Tucker Band's early albums. Charlie played on the bands albums: "A New Life", "Where We All Belong", "Searchin' For A Rainbow", "Long Hard Ride" and "Carolina Dreams". Charlie can also be heard on the bands live album recorded in Milwaukee, WI on July 11, 1974.
In addition to the Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie also played fiddle on Hank Williams, Jr's 1975 album "Hank Williams Jr & Friends". Toy Caldwell can also be heard on this classic album.
Daniels is married to Hazel and they have a son Charles. He met Hazel in Tulsa when he had the rock band "Charlie Daniels and The Jaguars" who were the house band at "The Fondalite Club".
Charlie also went to Iraq several times to play for the troops. On his fourth visit he recorded an album, Charlie Daniels Band live in Iraq (2007 Blue hat records).
Daniels has never shied away from politics. "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 "19" and somewhat later Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road".
In 1990, 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.
His band's official website contains a "soapbox" page, where Daniels has made statements such as the following: "the topic de jour among the self proclaimed wise and elite these days," regarding global warming, "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".