Country Music News International Remembering Charlie Daniels - by Jeffrey Kurtis

Country Music News International Remembering Charlie Daniels - by Jeffrey Kurtis

The breaking news on July 6, 2020 of the passing of country music legend, Grand Ole Opry member, and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Daniels, sent shockwaves through the music and entertainment community. Fellow artists, publicists, actors, and his friends, all lit up their social media feeds with commentary about their experiences with the legend; saying the same favorable things about Mr. Daniels: a true patriot, one of the good guys, one of the nicest and kindest people I’ve ever met, etc.

The streets of his hometown community of Mt. Juliet, TN was lined with people who paid their respects as Daniels was transported by a police escort from the hospital where he passed away to the funeral home where arrangements were being made.

Anytime the country music community loses one of its own, it’s difficult to digest. It’s a piece of our fabrication that can’t be replaced. It seems that we all remember our own personal stories of how the specific person made an impact on us and I’m certainly not immune to that with Mr. Daniels.

When I was growing up in the 1980’s, my grandfather was fully invested in country music. He seemed to always be humming the chorus to Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again,” there was a velvet Elvis hanging in their living room, and Urban Cowboy was always on their television set anytime that it was aired on TV for free (they didn’t have cable). You know where this is heading! It didn’t matter what I was doing at the time - playing with baseball cards most likely – but when the scene with the Charlie Daniels Band came on, I stopped in my tracks to watch him tear up the fiddle as they performed “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”

Fast-forward 30 years later and I was now living in Nashville. I was handed free tickets at the Twice Daily’s Gas Station for an event that Daniels was hosting in support of Lipscomb University’s Yellow Ribbon Enhancement Program as part of his Scholarship for Heroes.

Lipscomb’s Allen Arena was filled with giddy spectators as Keni Thomas, The Grascals, and Chris Young all performed as supporting acts. Mary Byers, the then National president of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., was also honored.

The next day, all the media articles that were written about the event had lit up with the news that Lee Greenwood and Jason Aldean had both made surprises appearances during the event, but for me, the main event truly happened the moment that Daniels took the stage.

The first strike of that fiddle as the band opened with “Redneck Fiddlin’ Man” had everyone immediately jumping to their feet and clapping along, but I was back there sitting on the living room floor with my grandpa. In the moment, I was wiping a few tears from my cheeks that somehow escaped my eyes, but on that floor in my grandparent’s house I was surrounded by my scattered baseball cards, smiling ear to ear, and dancing as Urban Cowboy played on the screen in front of me.

In all my years of working in country music, I’ve been privileged to write several reviews of Charlie Daniels live performances and albums, but I’ve surprisingly never had the chance to meet the man in person even though we’ve been in the same room on several different occasions.

So now with the news of his passing this week, I send my message to Daniels through the prayer line: thank you for all you’ve done for country music, for your unwavering support of America and our true heroes, and for me personally, thank you for giving me songs that kept me connected to my grandfather who passed away when I was much younger.

The devil may have gone down to Georgia, but the always humble man behind the hit song has certainly gone up to heaven and is most likely already standing front and center on the grandest stage of the church triumphant as he plays his golden fiddle for an entirely new audience while eliciting BIG smiles!

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