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Loved ones of Charlie Daniels remember late country music icon: ‘We didn’t see his passing coming’

Those close to Charlie Daniels are still feeling the great loss of the country music icon.

The singer died in 2020 from a hemorrhagic stroke at the age of 83.

“We were shocked,” Daniels’ manager David Corlew told People magazine on Thursday. “Some of us are still in shock. None of us really believe we’re going to live forever. But because of Charlie’s energy level and attitude towards work, we haven’t seen his death coming. We were just waiting for COVID. If Charlie was still with us, we’d have 300 dates in the books. Of all the parts of his career, entertaining people is what he loved the most.”

According to the outlet, Corlew was planning the 2020 Volunteer Jam before the coronavirus pandemic affected the world. At the time, Daniels was eager to headline the show scheduled for Sept. 15, 2020, in Nashville, “a job he’s enjoyed for decades.” The star has called the Nashville area home since 1967.

CHARLIE DANIELS: I BELIEVE THE AMERICAN DREAM IS STILL ALIVE, I LIVE IT EVERY DAY

Charlie Daniels was eager to hit the road shortly before his death in 2020.
(Photo by Al Wagner/Invision/AP)

Former Volunteer Jam artists included Don Henley, Amy Grant, James Brown, Pat Boone, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama, Billy Joel, Little Richard, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eugene Fodor and Woody Herman. This year’s Volunteer Jam, which took place on Wednesday, paid tribute to Daniels.

“The Jam meant a lot to Dad because it was his annual homecoming concert every year,” Daniels’ son, Charlie Daniels Jr., said.

The singer’s son recalled the day his father died and how fans lined the streets with American flags and signs that read ‘We love you, Charlie’ as he drove hospital to funeral home.

Today, Daniels Jr. shares the patriarch’s story in a new podcast called “The Charlie Daniels Podcast: From Long Haired Country Boy, to Simple Man, The Best There’s Ever Been.”

“There’s a huge hole he left because not only did I lose my father, but I lost my friend, my boss and the focal point of our entire organization,” he admitted. “It took a long time trying to find a way to honor his legacy.”

CHARLIE DANIELS: THE PLACE I AM MOST GRATEFUL FOR

Musician Charlie Daniels (C) with his son Charlie Daniels Jr. and wife Hazel attend the 35th annual TJ Martell Foundation Awards Gala at the Marriot Marquis on October 27, 2010 in New York City.

Musician Charlie Daniels (C) with his son Charlie Daniels Jr. and wife Hazel attend the 35th annual TJ Martell Foundation Awards Gala at the Marriot Marquis on October 27, 2010 in New York City.
(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images)

Randy Travis described how, a few years after his debilitating stroke, Daniels shared a special message for him.

“He knelt down and told me he knew I wanted to sing again,” Travis told the outlet. “He took off his big hat and asked if he could pray. We stood there with our heads bowed, Charlie praying eloquently, and I cried. I wish the thousands of people in the crowd that day were able to know the man that I knew. They heard a great musician play, and I knew a great man who prayed for my life and my health, and for the safety and well-being of every fan. in the crowd.”

Darryl Worley shared a similar sentiment.

“He said, ‘Son, what are you doing for the Lord?'” Worley said. “It took me totally off guard, and my brain was out of control for the right answer. He patted me on the back and told me I had a gift that was more than music. He told me he could see it in me and that God had big plans for me… From that day on, I took my faith and leadership more seriously.”

Daniels, singer, guitarist and fiddler, started out as a session musician. From the early 1970s, his five-piece band toured endlessly, sometimes doing 250 shows a year.

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  HOF members Randy Travis and Charlie Daniels attend the Country Music Hall of Fame And Museum medal ceremony to celebrate 2017 Hall of Fame inductees Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed and Don Schlitz at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 22, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.

HOF members Randy Travis and Charlie Daniels attend the Country Music Hall of Fame And Museum medal ceremony to celebrate 2017 Hall of Fame inductees Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed and Don Schlitz at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 22, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall Of Fame & Museum)

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was No. 1 on the country charts in 1979 and rose to the pop charts. It was voted Single of the Year by the Country Music Association and earned his band a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

Daniels has performed at the White House, the Super Bowl, all over Europe and often for troops in the Middle East. He played himself in John Travolta’s 1980 film “Urban Cowboy” and was closely identified with the country music boom generated by that film.

“Well the devil came down to Georgia but Charlie went straight to heaven,” Dolly Parton tweeted at the time of Daniels’ death. “My heart, like millions of others, is broken today to learn that we have lost our dear friend Charlie Daniels.”

He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and son, Charlie Daniels Jr.

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CEDAR PARK, TEXAS - JUNE 09: Charlie Daniels performs in concert at HEB Center on June 9, 2019 in Cedar Park, Texas.  (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)

CEDAR PARK, TEXAS – JUNE 09: Charlie Daniels performs in concert at HEB Center on June 9, 2019 in Cedar Park, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
((Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images))

Daniels said in 1998 that he kept touring so much because “I never played those notes perfectly. I never sang all the songs perfectly. I’m in competition to be better tonight than I am. was last night and to be better tomorrow than tonight.”

Daniels said his favorite place to play was “anywhere with a good crowd and good pay”.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.