Montgomery Gentry singer Eddie Montgomery paid tribute to Charlie Daniels, calling the Country Music Hall of Famer and "American hero." Daniels, who was best known for the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," was 83. The Grand Ole Opry member often worked with Montgomery Gentry, even inviting the duo to join the Grand Ole Opry in May 2009.
"We just lost the greatest American hero I’ve ever known," Montgomery tweeted. "He brought me and T-Roy to the game!! I’m so proud that I got to call him a friend!! My heart is truly broken. I’m so glad I got to talk to him last week. Rest easy my brother!!!" The "T-Roy" Montgomery mentioned is his bandmate, the late Troy Gentry, who died in a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey in September 2017.
Montgomery Gentry and Daniels recorded and toured together. Daniels was featured on their song "All Night Long," which marked his first top 40 hit since 1990's "Mister DJ." In May 2009, Daniels invited the duo to join the Grand Ole Opry and they were inducted the following month. "I have been chosen to do something very special," Daniels said when he invited them during a Grand Ole Opry show, reports The Boot. "I have known you guys for a long time, and I am very proud of all your accomplishments. If you agree to it, on June 23rd you're gonna be made members of the Grand Ole Opry!"
After Gentry's death, Daniels issued a long statement to Billboard, noting he was "humble, always a genuine pleasure to be around, and I am gratified to have been numbered among his many friends." Daniels also said he would never forget the night he invited the duo to join the Opry. "I’ll never forget the night I was honored to inform the boys that they would be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, - the look on their faces and the scramble to think of a cohesive response to the spur-of-the-moment notice of such an honor, sought by so many and attained by so few," Daniels wrote. "They had a heart for the less fortunate and always ready to lend their talent to further a cause for the needy, just to be a part of honoring a friend."
Daniels started his music career in the 1960s and earned most of his best-loved hits during the 1970s and 1980. His hits include "Uneasy Rider," "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," "The South's Gonna Do It Again," "Long Haired Country Boy," "In America," "Still in Saigon" and "The Legend of Wooley Swamp." According to his publicist, Daniels suffered a hemorrhagic stroke at a hospital in Hermitage, Tennessee. He is survived by his wife Hazel and son Charlie Daniels Jr.