Charlie Daniels, a country music and southern rock legend known for his song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” has died, his publicist confirmed to TheWrap. He was 83.
Daniels died of a hemorrhagic stroke on Monday at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tennessee. Daniels is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
Along with his band The Charlie Daniels Band, Daniels is a multi-platinum recording artist and has won CMA awards, and he more recently collaborated with ESPN and Monday Night Football, recording new lyrics and a version of his iconic “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” to play before the games.
“There are few artists that touched so many different generations in our business than Charlie Daniels did,” Sarah Trahern, CMA CEO, said in a statement. “Today, our community has lost an innovator and advocate of Country Music. Both Charlie and Hazel had become dear friends of mine over the last several years, and I was privileged to be able to celebrate Charlie’s induction into the Opry as well as tell him that he was going to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. I will always remember the look of sudden shock and delight on his face as he realized he would be in the Hall of Fame Rotunda for the ages. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends at this sad time.”
Daniels made the rare transition from session musician to superstar. In the ’60s Daniels played fiddle, electric bass and guitar on albums by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and the Marshall Tucker Band, and he even co-wrote a song recorded by Elvis Presley called “It Hurts Me” in 1964. Some of the other artists he’s backed have included Marty Robbins, Claude King, Flatt & Scruggs, Pete Seeger, Al Kooper and Ringo Starr.
In 1969 though, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and later found success as a crossover rock radio hit, eventually becoming part of the soundtrack for the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy.” That year he won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance for the song. Since then Daniels has expanded his sound into gospel, bluegrass, blues, rock and more.
Some of his other well known songs include “Uneasy Rider,” “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” and “Long Haired Country Boy,” all of which became staples of his live performances. In all, Daniels has sold 13.5 million lifetime units of his music, according to the RIAA, with nine of his albums going either gold, platinum or multi-platinum.
Daniels was a supporter of the military and frequently gave to The Journey Home Project, which he founded with his manager David Corlew in 2014 in order to help veterans of the United States Armed Forces. He also did charity work for cancer research, muscular dystrophy research, physically and mentally challenged individuals, children and farmers.
Daniels also launched the Volunteer Jam in 1974, an annual marathon music festival and performance that could sometimes stretch beyond 10 hours in length and attracted performers such as Ray Price, Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Alabama, Vince Gill, Tammy Wynette, Ted Nugent, B.B. King, James Brown, Billy Joel, Eugene Fodor, Little Richard, Steppenwolf and Don Henley. The Charlie Daniels Band along with The Outlaws and The Marshall Tucker Band last toured the U.S. as part of the Volunteer Jam Tour in 2007.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.