We lost Charlie Daniels yesterday at the age of 83.
There’s no doubt that his music and his kindness left the world better than he found it, and it has been heartwarming to see so many artists & fans sharing their special memories of Charlie.
Although most of my colleagues in radio have at least one memory of meeting Charlie Daniels, I never got the opportunity to meet him. I did, however, see him twice in concert, and my favorite memory of him is a little unusual…
The year was 1996, and Billy Graham was bringing his iconic crusade to the Bank of America Panthers Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our church decided to take a group and make the trip up Interstate 77 from Mooresville.
I had grown up watching Billy Graham and had never been to a stadium before, so it was an exciting night. We made our way up to our seats, which were on the very top row of the top deck of the Panthers Stadium–we were literally sitting in the clouds and it was amazing!
I knew that each Billy Graham crusade featured a musical act, but I didn’t know until we got there that Charlie Daniels was one of the performers that night. I was already excited to see Billy Graham, but having grown up on classic country music, Charlie Daniels was an unexpected treat!
Charlie sang several gospel songs, and some of his hits (except “Devil Went Down To Georgia,” for obvious reasons—even at that young age, I knew that wouldn’t fly at a Billy Graham crusade.)
As with all of his crusades, Reverend Graham ended his message with an invitation to accept Jesus, and I got saved that night. I’ll never forget that long walk down to the field with my Mom while “Just As I Am” played.
I saw Charlie Daniels in concert several years later, and it was a terrific show–but whenever I hear his name, I always think of the night that I became a born-again Christian with Billy Graham and Charlie Daniels.