By Vernell Hackett
Charlie Daniels, who passed away on July 7, was remembered in a memorial today (July 10) at his home church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Fellow singers Travis Tritt, Gretchen Wilson, Trace Adkins, Carolyn Corlew and Vince Gill performed while roadie Roger Campbell, who had been with Daniels for 44 years, read a cowboy poem written by Baxter Black, “You’ll Miss This Man.” Allen Jackson, minister at the World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, presented the eulogy to Daniels. Storme Warren was the emcee for the service.
Daniels was very supportive of the military, going all over the world to perform for the troops. Representing those from that part of his life were David Rutherford, a former Navy SEAL, and Mark Geist, a former U.S. Marine. Both spoke of Daniels love for the military and
his support for the men and women who had served their country. Rutherford said, “Charlie Daniels led a full life and was supportive of those who protected the U.S. He was a true patriot. He believed he was here to serve those who served him – he believed it was his moral duty. He taught me that what matters is how you trust people … and he made us feel we were part of his family and that he cared for all of us.”
The service began, appropriately, with the Pledge Of Allegiance, and moved swiftly into Corlew singing the “23rd Psalm.” She was followed by Adkins singing what he said was one of Daniels’ favorite songs, “Arlington.” Adkins recalled having to perform “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” when Daniels was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was sing that song with Charlie Daniels sitting in the front row,” Adkins recalled.
“After I finished the song, Charlie looked at me and smiled as if to say, ‘Thank you’,” In typical Adkins fashion he finished his part of the memorial by telling Daniels to “Tell Jesus I said Hey!”
Gill, who performed “Go Rest High On That Mountain”/”America The Beautiful,” recalled meeting Daniels when he was playing in Ricky Skaggs bluegrass band in Kentucky. “I was just 19, and it’s a big deal when someone is kind and friendly to you when you first meet them. Later when I was in Pure Prairie League, we opened for Charlie and the Tucker Boys (Marshall Tucker Band). I remember one date in California when one of the members of our band had something in his possession that he shouldn’t have had and he was arrested. We couldn’t go on without him and we didn’t know what we were going to do. Charlie said to me, ‘You can open the show by yourself.’ It was the first time I ever did that! Charlie was one of those guys you were always grateful to see.”
Tritt told the audience, “Charlie is the greatest man I ever met in my life. Like everyone else, I could sit all day and tell stories about what he has done for me. He was a personal and professional inspiration to me.” Tritt, who performed “Amazing Grace,” continued, “Charlie loved Jesus but he was never judgmental or preachy about his beliefs, but he wasn’t ashamed to tell you how much he loved the Lord and I always respected that. I have no doubt if anyone heard the words, ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant,’ it was Charlie Daniels last Tuesday.”
Allen Jackson, who is the minister at the World Outreach Church, told the audience, “If we don’t smile and laugh a little bit today it won’t be pretty when we see Charlie again!” He also said Charlie was probably saying his best-known line, “Ain’t it good to be alive and well in Tennessee.”
Jackson challenged friends and family to “raise our game” in order to fill the space that Daniels has left in this world. He went on to say, “I pray one of the things we will take from Charlie is to be a better friend. Charlie enjoyed every minute of his journey. He loved God, Hazel, Charlie Jr. and the U.S.A. Charlie believed that God was watching over all of us.”
Jackson also said, “In Charlie’s lyrics there is a great amount of wisdom,” something anyone who has listened to Daniels’ music for any amount of time could agree with.
Wilson performed “I’ll Fly Away,” telling the crowd, “Charlie was the first person to welcome me to Wilson County when I moved here. He made me feel at home in Tennessee. He was like a father to me. He spoke at my graduation when I got my GED.”
Daniels’ long-time manager, David Corlew, closed out the memorial. “I have been Charlie’s manager for 47 years,” Corlew said, continuing, “He is the greatest man I’ve ever known. I believe God put Charlie here for a reason – someone we could emulate who would be the example of how to be in your life. Let’s forever carry on the legacy of Charles Edward Daniels. Let this be a new day for all of us.”
Daniels was a singer who drew from many genres of music, including country, Southern rock, blues. bluegrass, gospel, Americana and western. Anyone who knew him talked about his love for God, his support of the military, his joy in sharing his music, his love for his wife Hazel and son Charlie Jr, and his love of this country. He had numerous hits, including “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” “Long Haired Country Boy” and “The South’s Gonna Do It Again.” He released albums that hit the country charts, some that were Southern Rock, several Christian albums including “The Door” in 1994, and a western album, “Night Hawk,” in 2016. In 2018 he released a blues album, “Beau Weevils—Songs in the Key of E.”
Daniels’ Volunteer Jams were legendary and brought together all genres of music for one great night of music beginning in 1974. He had already scheduled one for September 15 of this year in Nashville titled “Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam: A Musical Salute. He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. He died from suffering a hemorrhagic stroke.
When news of his death was announced, everyone including President Trump had words of praise for Daniels and what he meant to them.
John Rich, half of the duo Big & Rich and host of “The Pursuit of John Rich” show on Fox Nation, was fated to have the last interview with the singer. While discussing the interview at Daniels’ home in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee while appearing on on “Fox and Friends,” Rich said, “As we would say in the country, ‘he was firing on all eight cylinders’ … he was happy and pumped and excited. … He cared so much for our police, for our first responders and military, and his fans too. He had 100 bookings to play this year at 83 years old. That’s amazing.”
“We would follow him into battle. We would not follow him on stage,” said singer Larry Gatlin of Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin
Brothers fame, referring to Daniels reputation as having one of the best live shows on the road. “We couldn’t. No one else could either.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee agreed, saying, “A wonderful entertainer, Christian gentleman, servant to our veterans like no other, and an humble, kind man despite being multi-talented, successful, and hard working. #heartbroken.”
“It is a sad day for a southern gentleman,” said Doug Gray of The Marshall Tucker Band. “A soft spoken Godly man. A man I have known 50 years. We are missing a man that already has the hands of his great God holding him. I have no words.”
“Just learning of the passing of this great man. What a hero. A true patriot, Christian and country music icon … Thank you for all your contributions on and off the stage. God Bless you Charlie Daniels,” Luke Bryan commented.
“I first met Charlie Daniels when I did my first performance on ‘Nashville Now,” said western country singer Joni Harms. “He was guest hosting for Ralph Emery and he was such a nice man. Later I wrote for his publishing company, Kicking Bird Music. Those were wonderful memories. Charlie and his music will be missed.”
“Absolutely gutted to hear the news of Charlie Daniels passing this morning … what a life lived, and what an incredible human being. He will be sorely missed,” tweeted Chris Young.
“Man, I am heartbroken to hear that Charlie Daniels passed away this morning,” said Jason Aldean. “He was one of the nicest/kindest people I have ever met. Thanks for the musical legacy u left all of us. We will miss you Mr. Charlie.”
“We will miss great country rocker Charlie Daniels … I love his music,” tweeted President Trump.
“Charlie was the first legendary artist to take me under his wing and encourage me when I was first getting started in the business,” Travis Tritt posted on Instagram. “He was always there for me when I needed him. I have so many memories of touring, performing, writing and recording with Charlie, but my favorite memories are of simply talking with the man when it was just the two of us alone.”
“I met Charlie in the early ‘90’s when the duo I was a part of performed on his Star Search show,” remembers singer/songwriter and author Jim Jones. “We were nobodies from New Mexico, but he was as friendly and respectful as could be. It’s my impression that he was that way with everyone he met.”
“I will truly miss my friend and fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member, Charlie Daniels,” said singer Charley Pride. “He was one of the most honest and genuinely nice people in the business. I will miss our talks.”
“One of my favorite people on this earth, Charlie Daniels, has gone on to his eternal reward today,”
posted Ricky Skaggs. “”Oh, how he will be missed at the Grand Ole Opry and everywhere else he was loved.”
“He was at the core of my roots and influences in my life … (It’s an) Honor to call him my friend. His fiddle’s gonna be roarin’ in heaven tonight,” said Billy Ray Cyrus.
“Today America lost A Great American who loved God Family Country and our brave heroes,” posted Sean Hannity. “Heaven has a new angel today. God speed Charlie Daniels. All our love and prayers to his family, friends and fans around the world. He is irreplaceable and we mourn with you all.”
“I was around Charlie a few times over the years, and I was always a better person for each of our encounters,” said rancher and singer/songwriter Randy Huston. “He was one of the great people of the music world. A great writer, singer, musician, entertainer, a great human being. He’s leaving a lasting influence on the world, and he will be missed by many.”