Sad to hear Charlie Daniels passed away this morning. The country music and southern rock legend died this morning at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tenn., at the age of 83. Doctors determined the cause of death was hemorrhagic stroke. Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

(One of Charlie’s Opry appearances)

A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 2008 and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame since 2016, Daniels had 34 singles on the Billboard Country Singles Chart from 1973 to 2011. And he only had one #1 hit. And what a hit it was. The classic “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” was released in 1979, won him a Grammy for Country Vocal Group and Country Music Association (CMA) award for Single of the Year. Next month marks the 41st anniversary of the song reaching #1. Two of his band members who helped co-write the song with Daniels, Tom Crain and Joe “Taz” DiGregorio, both died in 2011.

(Charlie greeting his fans at Fan Fair in Nashville)

Before his own success as an artist, Charlie, originally from Wilmington, North Carolina, was a session musician in Nashville in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and can be heard on such classic albums as Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” and Ringo Starr’s “Beaucoups of Blues.” (BTW, Ringo turns 80 tomorrow.)

(Famous for his fiddle playing, Daniels was also great on guitar)

In addition to his country rock persona, Charlie also won Dove Awards for his gospel music. An outspoken patriot and road warrior, he devoted much of time to support underprivileged children, veterans and many other causes.

(My backstage pass on the back of his greatest hits CD)

The late Canadian singer/songwriter Colleen Peterson was a backup singer in his band for many years and Charlie often played concerts in Canada during his career. I saw him three times: once at the Western Fair in London, Ont., and in Kitchener when he played Lulu’s Roadhouse. I was the MC for that Kitchener show in 1994. In 1983, I attended Fan Fair in Nashville for the first time wearing a t-shirt that read “My Two Best Friends – Charlie and Jack Daniels.”  The last time I saw Charlie was when he was part of the 2013 George Jones Tribute Concert in Nashville.

(Charlie Daniels at the George Jones Tribute concert, 2013)

While southern rock music with its country roots was a new sound in the 1970’s, few artists who embraced that genre had more to do with bringing new, younger fans to country music than Charlie Daniels.

Condolences to his family, friends and fans.

I have a feeling the Devil is probably still cursing Charlie.