Travis Tritt shared a heartbreaking tribute to a fellow Grand Ole Opry member, the country music legend Charlie Daniels, who died on Monday. Daniels suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, according to his publicist. Tritt said his "heart is crushed" after learning his "dear friend" passed away at age 83. The "Best of Intentions" singer shared a throwback photo of himself with a smiling Daniels on Instagram.
In his tribute, Tritt said Daniels was the "first legendary artist to take me under his wing" and encourage him when he first entered the country music scene. "He was always there for me when I needed him," Tritt wrote. "I have so many great memories of touring, performing, writing and recording with Charlie, but my favorite memories are of simply talking with the man when it was just the two of us alone."
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Tritt, who worked with Daniels on his single "Southern Boy," thanked him for always being "such a friend, mentor and inspiration to me." He added, "I will always be grateful. My deepest condolences go out to the Daniels family, friends and fans." Tritt, 57, and Daniels toured together just last year, headlining the Outlaws & Renegades Tour from March to August 2019.
Tritt's followers shared their condolences and memories of seeing him perform with Daniels. "Glad I was able to see you both together in Maryland from the front row! Long haired country boy will live on with you Travis," one fan wrote. "I’m so sorry for the passing of your dear friend. Travis. I [saw] you two in Columbus together. He will [be] missed," another wrote.
Daniels joined the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. After news of his death broke, Country Music Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young remembered Daniels as a "reverential" innovator. "His music fused the immediacy of Southern Rock with the classic country storytelling he heard as a child," Young said Monday. "He brought new audiences to country music, pointing people to the sources even as he explored the edges."
Daniels started his career in the 1960s and found the most success during the 1970s and 1980s. His biggest hit was the Grammy-winning song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which is so popular that Daniels wrote a sequel titled "The Devil Comes Back to Georgia" in 1993. Tritt, Marty Stuart and Johnny Cash continued to the sequel, which appeared on fiddle player Mark O'Connor's Heroes album. Daniels' other hits include "The South's Gonna Do It," "Uneasy Rider," "In America," "The Legend of Wooley Swamp" and "Long Haired Country Boy."