Charlie Daniels, the country music icon famous for performing the ubiquitous song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died at 83 years old on July 6, according to a statement from the Country Music Association. The Tennessean reported the cause of death as a hemorrhagic stroke. The singer-songwriter showed off his lively fiddle playing in his music, which blended country, bluegrass, and rock. He began his career in the late ’60s as a session musician in Nashville, playing guitar and bass on records by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, among others. As Daniels began releasing his own music, he also played fiddle for the Marshall Tucker Band and Hank Williams Jr. He found his biggest hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” in 1979, on the Charlie Daniels Band’s album Million Mile Reflections. The platinum song topped out at No. 3 on the Hot 100 and won the Grammy for best country vocal performance. The song became iconic for its fiddler-versus-devil narrative, which has been covered and parodied extensively since its release.
Daniels was known, in the later years of his career especially, as an outspoken conservative, posting political opinions on the “Soapbox” section of his website and criticizing aspects of recent Black Lives Matter protests in the weeks leading up to his death. In 2007, he was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry, and in 2016, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. “There are few artists that touched so many different generations in our business than Charlie Daniels did,” said Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, which oversees the Hall of Fame. “Today, our community has lost an innovator and advocate of country music.”