A message hit my inbox on Monday morning that shook my world. It was an email from Charlie Daniels' publicist who told me Charlie had passed away unexpectedly from a stroke. I was numb for a few minutes trying to process it.
Charlie had been a guest on my weekend TBN show just a couple of weeks ago. He talked passionately about his projects for veterans. No one loved them more than the legendary singer, songwriter and musician Charlie Daniels.
His career spanned almost 70 years and touched virtually every genre of music from pop, southern rock, country and blues. He was an unmatched musician, capable of playing every instrument on the stage and doing it better than anyone else on that stage.
His shows and appearances were epic because of the sheer level of energy Charlie put into every performance. He performed every set as if it was his last. His book “Never Look At the Empty Seats” revealed his commitment to his fans that whether a venue was packed or not, he would give his all every time he appeared. He never thought about those who didn’t come -- he took the stage and emptied himself to the last ounce of energy he had so as to leave everything on the stage for those who WERE there. No one left disappointed at a Charlie Daniels show.
Off stage, Charlie Daniels was the consummate gentleman. For a man of his stature in the entertainment industry, he was humble, thoughtful and selfless. His band and crew adored him. He was loyal to them and treated them like family. He took care of them as if they were family.
He freely gave advice, encouragement and assistance to young performers and genuinely sought to help them to stardom. He never had to feel threatened because (to borrow a line from one of his great hit songs), he was “the best that’s ever been.” He never said that about himself, but everyone who was ever around him sure did!
Charlie Daniels was a man of sincere, authentic and demonstrable faith. His personal faith was not pious or put-on, but powerful and persuasive. When he spoke of God, he talked about someone he personally knew, not just a conceptual God “out there somewhere,” and he spoke with clarity and conviction and never with reluctance or timidity.
As a true American patriot, he spoke and sang for the working men and women of America. He had fans from all walks of life, but Charlie stayed close to his working-class roots. His song, “Simple Man” was in many ways a personal reflection of who he was.
He loved America deeply and devotedly. He spent blocks of his personal time giving to those he treasured most -- veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Whether playing free concerts, raising money to help veterans get medical aid or a new home or just shaking their hands and thanking them, Charlie Daniels believed in those who fought for his freedom. And they -- and all of us --believed in him.
Rest in Peace, my friend. We will catch you on the other side. Keep a seat for us.