Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels is celebrating big this month (May 21st) as his genre-crossing hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” reaches its 40th year of being the most impactful fiddle-centric song to ever be released.
“People ask me if I imagined ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ would be the success it has been,” says Daniels. “My answer is I had no idea that forty years after the fact we would still be talking about it almost as if it was a new release.”
A worldwide phenomenon, the track became a household name as no one had ever released a song with a storyline so colorful or with the fiddle as the star. Daniels’ aggressive yet strategic performance launched The Charlie Daniels Band into stardom upon the song’s release in May of 1979.
With “Devil” hitting its 40th anniversary, Daniels stopped by CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown to talk about the song’s impact, legacy, and never-ending popularity, even to this day.
“The Best There’s Ever Been… For Forty Years!”
• Covered by Jerry Reed, Lynn Anderson, The Chipmunks, Blues Traveler, The Muppets, Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band, Colt Ford, Primus, a rap version by K.M.C Kru and a parody by Cletus T. Judd just to name a few.
• A common misconception is that the lyrics in the final verse were changed from “S.O.B.” to “son-of-a-gun” after Charlie was forced to go back in the studio and do a “clean” version, in fact, both versions were recorded on the very same day with everyone in agreement that the “son-of-a-gun” version would have a better likelihood of getting radio airplay. While the “S.O.B.” version was on the “Million Mile Reflections” album, it also got airplay on the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) stations and continues on classic rock stations today.
• The song won CMA and ACM awards and a GRAMMY®
• Featured in many TV shows, movies, and commercials (check out the video below) and even a video game, “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock”.
• It was the music chosen by gymnast Dominique Moceanu as she performed her floor routine at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
• Charlie’s Soapbox on the song’s 40th Anniversary will be posted on FRIDAY.
• Certified Platinum Single (over 1 Million units sold)
• Downloads: Over 2.5 Million (as of 2016)
• Album Sales: Well over 16 Million counting CDB and soundtrack albums featuring “TDWDTG.”
• Streaming: Over 290.6 Million streams on top three streaming services combined (Apple Music/Spotify/Pandora)
About Charlie Daniels
From his Dove Award winning gospel albums to his genre-defining Southern rock anthems and his CMA Award-winning country hits, few artists have left a more indelible mark on America’s musical landscape than Charlie Daniels. An outspoken patriot, beloved mentor, and still a road warrior at age 82, Daniels has parlayed his passion for music into a multi-platinum career and a platform to support the military, underprivileged children, and others in need. The Charlie Daniels Band has long populated radio with memorable hits and his signature song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Over the course of his career, Daniels has received numerous accolades, including his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Musicians Hall of Fame and becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Daniels helps to shine the spotlight on the many causes that are close to his heart. He’s a staunch supporter of the military and lends his time and talent to numerous charitable organizations, including The Journey Home Project, that he founded in 2014 with his manager, David Corlew, to help veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
For more information, visit charliedaniels.com.