Charlie Daniels, the Southern singer and songwriter behind hits like “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” has died. As Variety reports, the musician died of a hemorrhagic stroke in Hermitage, TN. He was 83.
Born in 1936, Daniels was renowned for his fusion of Southern rock, country, and bluegrass, as well as his mastery of the fiddle, which he flexed on albums by the Marshall Tucker Band and Hank Williams, Jr. He released his self-titled solo debut in 1971, and went on to release more than 30 studio albums throughout his long career, which saw him score subsequent hits with songs like “Uneasy Rider,” “In America,” and “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye.” In that time, he’s become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, and won a Grammy in 1979 for “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” a thrilling and fiery slice of mythic revisionism that, as we pointed out a few years back, carries some queasy undercurrents.
But Daniels was never shy about his right-wing politics, which grew fiercer in latter-day singles like “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s A Flag” and “My Beautiful America.” His Twitter presence, meanwhile, was a swampy amalgam of vitriol, conspiracy, and daily warnings that “Benghazi ain’t going away!!” (He tweeted it just yesterday, in fact.) But Daniels demonstrated his admiration for those serving in the armed forces by helping found the Journey Home Project, a non-profit that, per its website, works on “connecting donors to veterans’ organizations that do the most good.” He also started the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center at Middle Tennessee State University, which helps veterans transition from the military into college.
Daniels was known to play live for U.S. troops stationed across the world. “I’ve played for them on bases in this country, overseas, on ships at sea, in Greenland, and Cuba, all over the place,” he said in a 2019 Forbes interview. “And the main reason is to let them know somebody cares.”
Daniels’ reach moved beyond music, too. He voiced himself on two episodes of King Of The Hill and acted in episodes of 18 Wheels Of Justice and Murder, She Wrote, the latter of which found him playing a singer named Stoney Carmichael alongside Angela Lansbury.
“There are few artists that touched so many different generations in our business than Charlie Daniels did,” Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer of the Country Music Association, said in a statement (per Entertainment Weekly). “Today, our community has lost an innovator and advocate of Country Music.”