Charlie Daniels: One of a kind
By Roy E. Deering
ADA – For the past 50 years, Charlie Daniels has made a lot of music, made his share of money, and had an awful lot of fun. Friday night, the 70-year-old country music legend will bring his unique style of entertainment to the Robert S. Kerr Activities Center on the campus of East Central University for a concert that will benefit the school's growing Communications Department.
Joining Daniels on stage Friday for the 8 p.m. show will be Oklahoma native Bennin Hunt.
Daniels will honor members of a local national guard unit who have been invited to attend the concert as guests of local businesses and community organizations. Although Daniels is being paid to perform, he said the chance to meet the local guardsmen will be his honor.
"For me to have the chance in person to thank these men and women for their sacrifice and for their willingness to carry the torch of freedom is a tremendous privilege," Daniels told the Ada Evening News in a telephone interview last week.
"I have the utmost respect for the men and women who fight for freedom. I've been to Iraq twice and I have always been a tremendous supporter of our armed forces. To me, it's sickening when you hear some of the national media people trying to discredit and dishonor them these days."
Known for such classic rockin’ country songs as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," and "Long Haired Country Boy," the outspoken Daniels said he'll bring a high-energy family show to Pontotoc County Friday night."
First, it's a family show," Daniels said. "I have always tried hard to provide a show that's suitable for all ages. Second, we will play the songs people want to hear – like 'The Devil' and 'Long Haired Country Boy', because it makes me angry when I go to a concert and the performer sings one or two songs you know, and then spends an hour trying to sell you his new album.”
Winner of two Grammy Awards and numerous Grammy nominations, Daniels has recorded nearly 50 albums in his five decades in country music. Know for his high-energy fiddle playing and back woods, simple messages, Daniels said it was hard for him to comprehend that he was now in his 70s.
"I don't know how long I'll keep playing," Daniels said. "All I know is that I have no plans for retirement. I can't even stand the word. As long as the Good Lord gives me the ability and the desire to keep getting up on stage, I'd rather be there than anywhere else in this world."
Known for his trademark white beard and white felt cowboy hat, Daniels has been a fixture on country – and even rock – radio stations for more than 40 years.
His biggest hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," has been covered by numerous artists over the years. One of those covers was a rap version, one Daniels found "entertaining," but not quite his "cup of tea."
A rebel in life and in music, Daniels said his proudest accomplishment in music is that he has stayed true to himself and has not allowed his music to be controlled by recording executives.
"I love the fact that country music is the fastest growing music out there right now," Daniels said. "But I absolutely hate that all the singers look and sound the same.”
"It's like the record companies use the same little cookie cutter and give them all the same sound, the same look and the same songs. There's no one unique out there any more."
Yes, there is. And his name is Charlie Daniels.