Charlie Daniels: Country rock legend dies at age 83

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Charlie Daniels toured with his country band constantly, sometimes 250 shows per year

Country Music Hall of Fame musician Charlie Daniels died on Monday at the age of 83.

The prolific singer, songwriter and instrumentalist died in a Nashville hospital after a haemorrhagic stroke, his publicist said in a statement.

His hit, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, is an American classic and won his only Grammy Award in 1979.

He was best known for his fiddle playing, as well as his outspoken brand of conservative patriotism.

News of Daniels’ death was met with a flood of tributes.

Sharing a photo of him and Daniels performing together, country star Luke Bryan paid tribute to a “great man” and “hero”.

“A true patriot, and country music icon,” Bryan wrote. “Thank you for all your contributions on and off the stage. God bless you Charlie Daniels.”

“I am heartbroken to hear that Charlie Daniels passed away,” country singer Jason Aldean wrote on Twitter. “He was one of the nicest/kindest people I have ever met.”

The singer, guitarist and fiddler started his career playing bluegrass in his native North Carolina before moving to Nashville in 1967. As a session musician, Daniels played on three of Bob Dylan’s records, including the Nashville Skyline album, as well as recordings for Leonard Cohen and Ringo Starr.

Though a Southern country rock musician, he bilked being easily labelled as such, pointing out that he had played with the likes of the Rolling Stones as well as Willy Nelson.

Starting in the early 1970s, his five-piece eponymous band toured constantly, sometimes doing 250 shows in a year.

“I have never played those notes perfectly. I’ve never sung every song perfectly,” Daniels said in 1998 of his frequent shows. “I’m in competition to be better tonight than I was last night and to be better tomorrow than tonight”.

Through his decades long career, Daniels played at the White House, the Super Bowl, and for US troops stationed in the Middle East.

His favourite place to perform, he said, was “anywhere with a good crowd and a good paycheque”.

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He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

Daniels was a vocal advocate of veterans’ causes and an ardent supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA), calling former-President Obama a “fresh-faced flower-child president and his weak-kneed, Ivy League friends” in an advert for the organisation.

Last month, criticising the anti-racist protesters taking to the streets, Daniels wrote on his website that the demonstrations “against the unjust killing of a black man” were not simple protests, “but a revolutionary street battle against America and everything we stand for”.

“Gun sales are through the roof and America is locked and loaded to protect their families and their neighbourhoods,” he said

Daniels had previously suffered from a mild stroke in January 2010. He had a pacemaker implanted in 2013 but continued to take the stage to perform.

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

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