Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Charlie Daniels Happily 'Beholden' to U.S. Troops

Charlie Daniels Happily 'Beholden' to U.S. Troops: "KUMAMOTO, Japan -- Charlie Daniels has done two tours of Iraq. Last year, he was in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kuwait. He's done Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea.

Make no mistake, Daniels always goes armed and ready - with a fiddle.

'I feel very beholden to our troops,' the country music legend told The Associated Press at his hotel in this southern Japan city, where he was preparing to headline an annual country music festival. 'If you can get me there, I'll go.'

That's generally easier said than done. The helicopter flying Daniels took on fire in Kirkuk, Iraq in April. And when a sand storm diverted him from reaching the Baghram Air Base just outside of Kabul, Kyrgyzstan, he played an impromptu show at another nearby base.

'Our drummer was pounding on a garbage can,' Daniels said. 'But that's kind of the beauty of these things. You just get a bunch of guys together and do it. In some of these places, they haven't had any kind of entertainment for 11 months. We had about 200 people come out.'

'They are starved for anything American,' Daniels added of the troops. 'They are a great audience.'

Daniels, who lives on a ranch just outside Nashville, Tennessee, continues to play about nine months out of the year, much of that on the road. After Japan, he was to travel on to South Korea to entertain the U.S. troops there. He'll turn 70 on Oct. 28 while he's in China.

In his four-decade career, he has sold somewhere around 20 million records, including the quadruple platnum Fire in the Mountain album. Daniels won the best country singer Grammy in 1979 for the No. 1 hit single, "Devil Went Down to Georgia."

He says he is now working on his 47th album, as well as a duet collection that will include Dolly Parton, Travis Tritt, Gretchen Wilson and Earl Scruggs.