Interview By: Joseph Hett
Southern Rocker Charlie Daniels recently spoke with Music Recall Magazine while on the road from warm Pompano Beach, FL. Check out MRM’s exclusive interview with Daniels below.
The Charlie Daniels Band will be at the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, SC on Tuesday, December 3 at 8:00pm.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased at newberryoperahouse.com, the Newberry Opera House box office or by calling (803) 276-6264.
MRM: Growing up, who were your musical influences?
Daniels: Well, they were constantly changing. When I first started playing, I got into Bluegrass music and, of course, it was Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Reno & Smiley, Stanley Brothers and those people. And then about the time Elvis came along and Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins and those guys, I got into that kind of music. And then later on, of course, the groups. Oh gosh, The Allman Brothers were one of my all-time favorites, Eric Clapton. You know the musical groups and the musical people, Bob Dylan. I’ve had a lot of influences, a bunch of influences.
MRM: What made you want to get into music and start performing?
Daniels: I don’t really know, other than I must have been born that way. Because I used to fantasize about getting on stage in front of people before I ever had any knowledge at all about what to do about playing or anything. Of course, I’ve always sung even when I was a kid, but I hadn’t done it professionally. I had no idea. And I learned a couple chords on the guitar from a friend of mine when I was about 14 years old and just kind of started from there. And really pursued it and really took advantage of every opportunity until I could work my way up to make a living playing music. That’s what I wanted to do, that was my first thing I wanted to do. I wanted to be a professional musician and make a living entertaining people. And just kept on and kept on until. I’m 77 years old and still at it.
MRM: What’s the secret to your longevity?
Daniels: It’s just the blessings from God, telling me the desires in my heart that I want to do this. I still enjoying doing it, I’m able to do it. I’ve got the best band I’ve ever had. I enjoy the touring and the traveling aspect. I love creating and performing music. It’s just what I want to do, and it’s God blessing me to do it. That has always been one of my aims when I started out, I wanted longevity. I didn’t want to put my toe in the water or just try it. I wanted to be in it. And I didn’t want to be in it for a few years and then leave it. I wanted to be in it right on. So, I’ve always worked in that direction and tried to take advantage of every opportunity I get to further that.
MRM: How did you first become connected with South Carolina’s own Marshall Tucker Band?
Daniels: Playing together on the same bill. I walked in to their dressing room one night, the first time we every worked together, and we’re friends every since. You know, what a lot of people would call southern music/southern rock, I’ve never seen as a genre because all of the bands were different from each other, but the people were a genre. We were all raised eating the same food, basically the same religious, financial, social type of a way.
And it was a big bond with most of the people involved in those bands, and we just got along great. When we played with bands like Marshall Tucker, we were just constantly out of each other’s dressing room. We would jam together on stage. You know, it was just a comradely of brotherhood type of a thing. I just hit it off with those guys the first night I’ve ever met them, the first night we ever played together. And we were friends right on and on and on.
Unfortunately, there were three brothers and they all have passed away and Mr. Caldwell and Mrs. Caldwell. I still see Toy’s daughter every once in a while. Toy was a great guy, and Tommy was a great guy, and I really loved both of them.
MRM: Did it bring back memories touring with Doug Gray, original MTB lead singer, and the boys recently?
Daniels: Oh yeah, but there’s no novelty to us playing together. Because we’ve played more shows together than any band that I have ever worked with. But at the same time, we still do it, I mean we still play together, not as much as we used to. The Marshall Tucker Band and the CDB being packaged together is a very sensible thing to do. We both appeal to the same type of people. We have a great time playing together, and the music is very compatible. So, it’s nothing unusual about that.
MRM: Could you tell us your song writing process with the massive hit “The Devil Went Down To Georgia?’
Daniels: Well, I can. It’s not very exciting. [Laughs] You would think it would be. But we had written and rehearsed an albums worth of songs for an album called “Million Mile Reflections.” We went in the studio to record them and came to the grand realization that we didn’t have a fiddle tune. Why we didn’t decide that before we went in? I don’t know. But anyway, we took a break from the recording studio and moved our equipment in to a rehearsal studio. And I just had this idea and just wrote this song and went back in and recorded it.
MRM: I’m assuming you will perform the “son of a gun” version?
Daniels: Yes sir. [Laughs] When I did that, I told people I did a Baptist version and a Methodist version, but I won’t tell them which is which.
MRM: You became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, was that a special time in your life?
Daniels: Oh yeah. That was such a blessing, such a blessing. I told the crowd that night, “Your bible tells me God will give you the desires of your heart. You’ve just seen it come true tonight.” Because it was such a desire in my heart to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. We had played the Grand Ole Opry a lot, but always as a guest and never as a member. So, I was deeply honored and blessed.
MRM: I see where you’re very active on Twitter (@CharlieDaniels). Is social media very useful to reach out to your fans?
Daniels: Well, I think it is. You know you can do something that goes over the world in a few seconds. Gosh, I’m amazed sometimes at the people that write back from foreign countries. When you put something out you never know who’s going to see it since it’s available to the whole world. I think it’s a wonderful thing, I am amazed. I come from the days of dial telephones. And I am amazed at the availability of instant worldwide communications. I’m still amazed at cell phones; you can walk around with something in your pocket and talk to people. So, I’m pretty wide eyed at technology. And I thoroughly enjoy communicating with people and putting my ideas out and having people respond to them.
MRM: What can fans expect in Newberry, SC when the Charlie Daniels Band rolls into town on December 3?
Daniels: We’re going to play the songs that people have the perfect right to expect us to play. “Long Haired Country Boy,” “Legend Of Wooley Swamp,” “South’s Gonna Do It (Again)” and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” You know those songs that people have heard for years, and they expect us to play, that we would be cheating them if we didn’t play them. And then we’ll put some new stuff in. Every year we change the show to some extent, we’ll put something in that you haven’t ever heard us play before. To entertain people from the time we start to the time we finish. That is our total desire.
MRM: Thanks for calling Mr. Daniels and see you in Newberry!
Daniels: Thank you very much. God Bless you. Talk to you soon.