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Mt. Juliet legend Charlie Daniels passes away at 83

Following news of Charlie Daniels’ death, flowers and memorials have been placed at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet. (Photo by Sarah Tate)

Mt. Juliet’s own country music and southern rock legend Charlie Daniels passed away Monday, July 6, 2020. Doctors determined the cause of death was a hemorrhagic stroke. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member was 83.

Born Oct. 28, 1936, in Willmington, North Carolina, Charlie Daniels was raised on country music, bluegrass, gospel and southern rock ‘n’ roll. His varied musical interests led to professional contributions across many genres. The Charlie Daniels Band 1979 signature song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was a major crossover hit and continues to receive airplay to this day.

Originally moving to Nashville in 1967, Daniels and his wife, Hazel, made their way to Wilson County and Mt. Juliet in the ’70s, where they have lived ever since.

“I do love Mt. Juliet. It’s been a home to us for a long time now and I’m just honored to live there,” he said in 2016. “When I leave Tennessee, I want to go to Heaven. There’s no other place I’d rather be than Tennessee.”

Charlie Daniels is also known for the Volunteer Jam concert, which was held 16 times between 1974-1996. The first Jam was held at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville and was scheduled as a live recording session for two songs. The Charlie Daniels Band invited some of their friends from the Allman Brothers Band and the Marshall Tucker Band to get together and “jam” after their set, thus creating a tradition.

After multiple Jam tours from 1999-2014, the Volunteer Jam returned in 2015 for the 40th anniversary and again in 2016 for Daniels’ 80th birthday.

Daniels received numerous accolades during his career, including his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2009, and becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2008.

Following news of his death, memorials and flowers began appearing along the locomotive bearing his likeness in the park that shares his name. The mural shows Daniels with his fiddle and saying, “I just thank God I can make a living doing something I enjoy as much as playing music.”

Many first responders, including Mt. Juliet Police, Mt. Juliet Fire and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, escorted his body from TriStar Summit Medical Center to Sellars Funeral Home in Mt. Juliet on Monday. The community lined the streets to pay their respect as the escort drove by.

On Monday, many musicians on social media paid tribute to Daniels and the legacy he leaves behind, including The Oak Ridge Boys, Luke Bryan, Trisha Yearwood, and more.

Dolly Parton said, “Well, the devil went down to Georgia, but Charlie went straight to heaven. My heart, like many millions of others, is broken today to find out that we’ve lost our dear friend Charlie Daniels. It was such a shock. He was one of the great people in the business and one of the greatest entertainers ever. He will live on in our hearts. Rest in peace, Charlie.”

Daniels is survived by his wife of nearly 56 years, Hazel, and only son Charles Daniels. He also leaves behind adopted grandchildren Evan Tubb and Ayala Nowling, grandbuddies Taylor Jenkins and Bailey Wheeler, as well as the Charlie Daniels Band family. He was preceded in death by his parents, Carlton and LaRue Daniels.

Charlie Daniels’ team on Tuesday asked that people donate to Daniels’ charity The Journey Home Project. Countless veterans experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  (PTSD) and many tragically die by suicide every day. The Journey Home Project helps connect donors to veterans organizations that can help them adjust to civilian life.

A patriotic community service for Daniels will be held Wednesday, July 8, at 6:30 p.m. in front of Sellars Funeral Home in Mt. Juliet. Open visitation for the community will be Thursday, July 9, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Sellars. The funeral will be 11 a.m. Friday, July 10, at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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