Charlie Daniels is Gone

I feel like it’s the end of an era. We lost one of my heroes, July 6th when Charlie Daniels passed away from a stroke. He was 83.

My First introduction to Charlie Daniels was in 1977 when I went over to Johnny’s house. He was a friend of a friend and I never knew his last name. We listened to Southern Rock on vinyl and I watched everybody else drink beer because I wasn’t 21. ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, and Charlie Daniels were on the turntable.

In 1980 when I landed my first job in radio, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was one of our most requested songs on the rock station where I worked. In the 1990’s, I gained a whole new appreciation for Charlie when I saw him live for the first time at the Montgomery County Fair.

That same decade KWWR did a feature on the radio station called “Pick it or Flick it.” It was basically a playoff between two artists and one of their new songs. In the five years I did this feature I recall only two artists always getting a unanimous pick. They were Garth Brooks and Charlie Daniels. In the entire decade Charlie Daniels did not have a single top 30 country hit. What does Nashville know? He was certainly a hit with our listeners.

In the 2000’s, I got a chance to tell Mr. Daniels about how he rated with our listeners on “Pick it or Flick it.” He acted very humble and appreciative. In fact he was that way every time I interviewed him on the phone.

As big of a star as Charlie was, he was one of the most approachable of all the country artists I’ve ever met. Too many of the young country stars forget their roots when they have their first hit record, not Charlie. He was down to earth to the very end. He will be missed.