Country music legend Charlie Daniels died Monday after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83. The County Music Hall of Fame member was survived by his wife Hazel and their only child, son Charlie Daniels Jr. Charlie Jr. was born in 1965, about a year after his parents married.
Daniels spent much of Charlie Jr.'s early life on the road. In an essay for CNS News, Daniels wrote that he went 16 weeks without seeing his son when Charlie Jr. was an infant. "I came home so anxious to see my family and hold my baby son, and when I picked him up, he started crying. He didn't know who I was," Daniels wrote at the time. "Even after we moved to Nashville in 1967, the periods of separation would continue as I pursued my dreams, logging millions of miles and untold weeks away from my family in the process."
Charlie Jr. Turns 49 today— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) April 28, 2014
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SON
YOUR MOTHER AND ME LOVE YOU VERY MUCH.
When the family moved to Nashville, Daniels only had $20 on him, but he was determined to make sure Charlie Jr. would "never do without anything he needed." Even after he finally scored his first record contract, he was still spending too much time away from his family. Whenever he was not touring, Daniels made sure to spend time with his son.
"I missed so much of my son growing up, so many birthdays, anniversaries, and even my days at home for Christmas and other holidays were limited," Daniels wrote. "But all through the difficult years of my being gone most of the time, and the days of skimpy budgetary, rattletrap cars and secondhand appliances, my wife never lost sight of what I was trying to accomplish and giving me whatever latitudes and parameters it took for me to get there."
Old friends(Charlie Daniels Jr. and moi). August 2nd, 2017. Nashville, TN. Photo courtesy of Lisa Manning. pic.twitter.com/uPNJXagV3U— john h foster (@tubedriven) August 15, 2017
In an interview with The Boot to mark his 75th birthday, Daniels said his favorite birthday presents were from his son. His son "has the knack of buying the most thoughtful birthday cards and writing the most thoughtful things in them," he said at the time. "We keep all the cards he gives us for our birthday. We've got them all."
Once Charlie Jr. started college in 1983, Hazel finally had time to travel with her husband, he told The Oklahoman. In his CNS essay, Daniels said they "began living our dream of being together night and day" and traveling the country. "She has been my rock, my tether to reality, my reason for getting up when I get knocked down," he wrote.
Daniels' music career stretches back to the 1960s, with his most famous songs hitting the charts during the 1970s and 1980s. The "Devil Went Down to Georgia" singer never retired, even scheduling tour dates into 2021. He joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Grand Ole Opry in 2008.