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Charlie Daniels (1936–2020), “Devil Went Down to Georgia” singer

by Linnea Crowther

Charlie Daniels was the legendary country rocker known for the hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”  

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Daniels’ biggest hit, driven by a furious fiddle solo by Daniels, was recorded in 1978 with the Charlie Daniels Band. Released in the summer of 1979, it quickly climbed the charts, bringing Daniels a No. 1 country music single and a No. 3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It was featured in the hit 1980 movie “Urban Cowboy,” driving its mainstream popularity. Daniels won a Grammy Award for best country vocal performance for the track. CMT ranked “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” No. 5 it its 2006 list, “20 Greatest Southern Rock Songs,” and a cover of the song was featured in “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.”

Other career highlights

Before Daniel’s great success with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” he was a respected session musician in Nashville. He played guitar and bass on several Bob Dylan albums, including the legendary “Nashville Skyline,” as well as on albums by Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen (1934–2016). Daniels had his first solo hit in 1973 with “Uneasy Rider,” which rose to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. With the Charlie Daniels Band, he had hits including “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” “Long Haired Country Boy,” and “Simple Man.” He appeared in “Urban Cowboy” as well as guest starring on episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” and “King of the Hill.” Daniels became a Grand Ole Opry member in 2008 and was inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame in 2016.


Daniels on his musical influences

“When I first started playing, I got into Bluegrass music and, of course, it was Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Reno & Smiley, Stanley Brothers and those people. And then about the time Elvis came along and Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins and those guys, I got into that kind of music. And then later on, of course, the groups. Oh gosh, The Allman Brothers were one of my all-time favorites, Eric Clapton. You know the musical groups and the musical people, Bob Dylan.” —from a 2013 interview with Music Recall Magazine

What people said about him

Full obituary: Tennessean

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