login | Register

From The GRITZ Vaults: The Legendary Godfather of Southern Rock, Charlie Daniels

Posted: Jan 21, 2009

The first time I ever saw Charlie Daniels in person was on one summer afternoon in 1977 at The Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium. The Marshall Tucker Band’s Homecoming Concert.

It was only two months before the passing of the King, Elvis, and four months prior to the Skynyrd airplane crash. I had been out of high school for one year, and was all wrapped up in the local music scene, still trying to figure out which direction to take with my life.

By now I had learned a bit about how to get backstage at shows, mostly by acting like I belonged. At twenty years of age and 265 pounds, I looked like a roadie. I just made my way to the backstage area where Puff and Blackie and other members of the Tucker road crew were running about, setting the stage, assembling Paul’s drum kit, doing line checks and all. I kind of walked past several important looking crew people, nodded my head and kept walking.

Pretty soon I was in the stair well that connects the loading dock to the stage area and the balcony. I didn’t really have a battle plan at this moment, I was just winging it. I heard the sound of what seemed to be cowboy boots on concrete, a little heavy breathing and the shuffling of saddle bags. I looked down one level to find Charlie Daniels coming up the stairs right toward me.

   “How ya doin,’” he asked with that famous smile of his.
   “Pretty good,” I replied.”I am really looking forward to hearing you jam today.”
   “Oh, it’s always fun with the Tucker boys,” he said.

With that we passed on the  stairs like to ships in the night. But it was a pivotal encounter for me. The beginning of a relationship with Charlie and his band that would last for at least thirty more years.

Over the years, I have interviewed Charlie and his band members numerous times, and it has always been great fun. In a 2003 interview , I asked Charlie for his thoughts on his friend Ronnie Van Zant.

"When I think about Ronnie I think about shaking of hands. He would do that all the time. He would reach out and shake hands. If I had to name two people that were deeply loved I would say Elvis Presley and Ronnie. These are two people that have been revered so much by people since their deaths in 1977."

Way back in 2000, Charlie told me how his famous Volunteer Jam came to be.

"Volunteer Jam was a live recording session. We were doing the Fire on the Mountain album and we wanted to do two live cuts so we figured the best place to do it was in Nashville, which was about the only place we could draw a crowd at that time. We got some recording equipment and asked some of our friends to come up and jam with us. That first year, Toy Caldwell, Jerry Eubanks and Doug Gray from The Marshall Tucker Band and Dickey Betts from The Allman Brothers was in town, and we invited him up. It was called Volunteer Jam, naturally, after the state of Tennessee. After the first time, we decided we needed to do this again."

Long time CDB member and lead guitarist Tommy Crain fronts his own band The Crosstown Allstars these days, but back when I spoke with him in a December, 2002 GRITZ interview, he told me how he came to join The Charlie Daniels Band.

"The band Flat Creek had a road manager named David Corlew, who is Charlie’s personal manager now. When the band broke up, David went on to road manage Charlie Daniels,  and in 1974, my band Buckeye opened the very first Volunteer Jam, and I actually played the first musical note of any Volunteer Jam ever because it started with a guitar riff. But I had met Charlie that night and he told me that he was losing both his guitar player and drummer and asked me if I would be interested. Well, to be honest with him I told him that I was still playing with my brother Billy and I didn’t want to leave him. I thought it over for about one week and turned him down because of that, and in retrospect that was a stupid thing to do, but I was naive back then and didn’t know what was going on.  One year later we played at another Volunteer Jam and at that time my band had broken up. He asked me again and I gladly accepted. Charlie said that we would be going on tour the first of the year in 1975, so my wife and I drove down to Knoxville and saw a show and she left me at the hotel and went home and Charlie and I went up to the hotel room, and I roomed with him for six years after that. I learned all the songs from the Fire On The Mountain album and he and I just sat up in the room with two electric guitars and no amps and just played the whole thing and it was just magical. I had never experienced anything like it."

For much more on The Charlie Daniels Band, check out our "Six Degrees of Swampland: Charlie Daniels" page, as well as our "Legends of Southern Rock: The Charlie Daniels Band" page. Be proud you're a rebel 'cause the South's gonna do it again!

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.



related tags


Wireless from AT&T


flashing lights says...

A very common use of a strobe light today is in emergency vehicles, especially when the light needs to be fitted in a concealed manner. A police light can be fitted as a hideaway light into the headlight of a vehicle and will be completely invisible till it is activated. flashing lights are also extensively used in off-road car shows where multicolored strobes are used on cars to produce moving lights that can go up and down, to keep beat with the rhythm of the background music.

michaelbuffalo says...

Boy howdy JC. You have seen some AWESOME SHOWS brother! How's life in San Fran? Still working with Phil Lesh?

JCFlyer says...

I first saw Charlie Daniels when he sat in with the Marshall Tucker Band at the Felt Forum in New York in 1973. Charlie sat in during 24 Hours at a Time and really tore the place up with his fiddle playing. A year later I had the good fortune to catch Charlie, this time with the Charlie Daniels Band, when he opened for Country Joe McDonald and Barry "The Fish" Melton at My Father's Place in Rosyln, Long Island. They were promoting the Fire on The Mountain LP and they blew me away that night. Obviously they were turning heads everywhere and WLIR-FM picked up on Charlie and promoted him in the New York area for the next couple of years. The thing that I enjoy most about Charlie is his honesty and authenticity. You know it when you hear it and Charlie has it in spades. God Bless You Charlie !!!

copperhead says...

Make that Soap box

elaine1987 says...

I agree. Charlie is an american treasure.

copperhead says...

Great Great artical. I love the CDB. I use the read the Doap box things he did and loved them. Not many people like him left in this country.

Please login or you can to leave a comment.

If you aren't registered, Register Now to start leaving comments.

Copyright 1998-2018 by Swampland Inc. All rights reserved.