Charlie Daniels, 'Devil Went Down to Georgia' singer and Country Music Hall of Famer, dies at 83
Country music and southern rock legend Charlie Daniels died Monday morning in Hermitage, Tennessee. He was 83. Doctors at Summit Medical Center determined his cause of death was a hemorrhagic stroke, according to a statement released by Daniels' representatives.
The Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member was known for his hit 1979 single "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which spent 14 weeks on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart. The track also peaked on Billboard's Hot 100 in the third spot where it sat for two weeks. The song won Daniels his first Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or A Group that same year. The song continued its ascent a year later as a rock crossover hit after it appeared on the soundtrack of Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta.
“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. “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 began his long and successful career in music in the 1950s. His lifetime records sales exceeded 13.5 million units, according to the RIAA, that puts him up with the biggest names in the industry including Natalie Cole, Paul Simon, and John Lennon. The multi-instrumentalist leaves behind an impressive catalog of music consisting of 32 studio albums released from 1970-2016, and a multitude of compilation and holiday albums.
Throughout his multi-platinum career, he used his platform to support the military, cancer research, farmers, and underprivileged children — causes that were close to his heart. Through his charity, the Journey Home Project and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center at Middle Tennessee State University, he helped military veterans as a way of what he said was "returning the favor" for their sacrifices and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist with their reintegration, rehabilitation, education, and those suffering from trauma and PTSD.