Southern rock icon Charlie Daniels passed away July 6, 2020, in Hermitage, TN, as the result of a stroke. Daniels was 83. He was born October 28, 1936, in Wilmington, NC, and was exposed to music through Pentecostal gospel, regional bluegrass bands, and the R&B and country music booming from Nashville’s 50,000-watt AM radio stations WLAC and WSM.
He found early work as a Nashville session musician, including playing guitar and electric bass on three Bob Dylan albums, and on recordings by Leonard Cohen. He produced the 1969 album, Elephant Mountain, by the Youngbloods. Daniels recorded his first solo album, Charlie Daniels, in 1971.
His first hit, the novelty song “Uneasy Rider”, was from his 1973 third album, Honey in the Rock, and reached No.9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Daniels’ famous fiddle playing can be heard on several of the Marshall Tucker Band’s early albums.
In 1975, he had a top 30 hit leading the Charlie Daniels Band with the Southern rock anthem “The South’s Gonna Do It Again.”
Daniels won a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1979 for his most famous song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1979.
Veteran area musician Dave Liddy, singer and keyboard player for the Moss Back Mule Band, recalls their encounters with Charlie Daniels:
We met Charlie in the mid-’70s when WOUR management and on-air DJs brought him to hear the Moss Back Mule Band at the Oasis nightclub in Westmoreland. He sat in with us on several of his tunes that we covered. A year or two after that we opened a show for the CDB at SUNY Cortland and also played in front of him at an outdoor festival featuring the CDB at the Cedar Pines in Osceola.Dave Liddy, Mossback Mule Band
Daniels was a wildly popular performer in upstate New York throughout his career, appearing at the following venues:
Onondaga War Memorial, Palace Theater-Albany, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Cortland, Kleinhans Music Hall-Buffalo, SPAC, Rochester War Memorial,
Union College, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, Proctor’s Theater, Landmark Theater-Syracuse, Clarkson University, Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Colonie Coliseum, Starlite Music Theater, Hunter Mountain,
Empire State Plaza, Finger Lakes Race Track, Turning Stone Casino, Tag’s Summer Stage-Big Flats, Times Union Center, Lakeview Amphitheater,
St. Lawrence County Fair, and Darien Lake. Daniels appeared at least sixteen times at the New York State Fair, which may be a venue record for number of shows by a single artist. His last known area appearance was at del Lago Casino in Waterloo, New York on November 16, 2019.