Charlie Daniels has been chosen for the ACM Spirit Award, honoring the contributions of Merle Haggard, who received 20 ACM Awards in his career, including the Triple Crown Award. This award is presented to a singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy of Country Music legend Merle Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs, and epitomizing Haggard’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.
Charlie Daniels freely shared his thoughts and viewpoints throughout his career, but his legacy may be his deep love for children, his fans, and his country. He devoted countless hours of his time and recruited several of his favorite artists to join him on the annual Christmas 4 Kids Tour Bus Shows. His many Volunteer Jams appealed to Country listeners who embraced Daniels’ outsized personality, while veterans and military families could not have found a more enthusiastic or patriotic advocate.
Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Daniels taught himself to play guitar at 15, started touring with a rock band after high school, and emerged in the 1960s as a promising songwriter and studio musician. Evis Presley cut one of Daniels’ compositions, “It Hurts Me,” in 1964. Daniels co-wrote the song with producer Bob Johnston, who would later hire Daniels to play guitar and/or bass guitar on three albums by Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning.
In 1973, “Uneasy Rider” carried the Charlie Daniels Band into the Top 10 at pop radio. A year later, Fire on the Mountain proved to be the band’s platinum breakout album, offering essential CDB tracks like “Long Haired Country Boy,” “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” and “Trudy.” Although Daniels charted 34 singles at Country radio across five consecutive decades, his signature song will always be 1979’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” A recipient of the 1997 ACM Pioneer Award, Daniels was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016 and passed away in 2020.