HERMITAGE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Country music and southern rock singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Daniels, who scored a crossover bluegrass hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” in 1979, has died. He was 83.
A statement from his publicist said that Daniels died Monday at the Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tennessee, after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke.
A native of North Carolina who was raised on a steady musical diet of d Pentecostal gospel, bluegrass, blues and country music, Daniels was already proficient with the guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin by the time he graduated high school in 1955.
He formed his own band, The Jaguars and toured, while Daniels also worked as a session musician in Nashville, recording with artists such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and wrote songs for other musicians, including “It Hurts Me,” which was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1963.
Daniels recorded his first solo album, “Charlie Daniels” in 1970 but didn’t score his first genuine hit as a solo artist until 1973 with the release of the novelty song “Uneasy Rider” which tells the story of a marijuana smoking hippy who gets a flat tire in Jackson, Mississippi ahead of the 1968 election.
In 1979, the Charlie Daniels Band released their tenth studio album “Million Mile Reflections” which included “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” which would become Daniels’ signature hit. The uptempo bluegrass song spent 14 weeks on the hot country singles chart, peaking at #1 and selling more than a million copies.
Other major hits for Daniels included “In America” (#11 in 1980), “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” (#31 in 1980), and “Still in Saigon” (#22 in 1982).
An avowed patriot, Daniels leveraged his celebrity to support a diverse array of causes, from helping underprivileged children to supporting military veterans, including the launch of The Journey Home Project, that he founded in 2014 with his manager, David Corlew.
In 2005, Daniels became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and was inducted by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith in January of that year.
In addition to music, Daniels was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and was a member of the National Rifle Association. Daniels was also known within the music industry for sending out photographic Christmas cards to mark the holiday season.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of Country Music’s legendary musicians, @CharlieDaniels. We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends during this sad time,” the Country Music Association said in a social media post after news of Daniels’ passing broke.
Funeral arrangements for Daniels will be announced in the coming days.