Randy Travis and Charlie Daniels became good friends during their long careers, and Travis shared a heartfelt post on social media on Monday remembering the late Southern rocker. Travis used Instagram to share a video of himself and Daniels backstage at the 2016 CMA Fest in Nashville, Daniels asking Travis if he wanted to get back on stage again. In 2013, Travis suffered a debilitating stroke that affected his ability to talk and sing, but Daniels told his friend he knew he wanted to return to the stage.
After Travis nodded, Daniels asked him if he could pray for him before taking his friend's hand and leading them in prayer, the clip ending in the middle of Daniels' message. "Charlie Daniels was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known," Travis' caption began. "He, and [Daniels' wife] Hazel, have been two of my and [Travis' wife] Mary’s dearest friends over the past years. We laughed, cried and prayed together. Not only was he a gift to us, but to the entire world."
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Travis continued by sharing a story about how Daniels named a colt after his friend before recalling their time together. "A few years ago, Charlie had a colt born on my birthday and named him after me," he wrote. "The memories go on and on, so I'll leave it at this — Charlie, thank you for everything you've done for me, your endless support of us, your unconditional love, and the sweet memories. It is my greatest honor to be your Country Music Hall of Fame classmate--you will live on forever as my hero… my friend. I love you." During that year's CMA Fest, Travis did return to the stage, surprising the audience during Daniels' set and receiving a standing ovation as he waved to the crowd and hugged his friend in a brief appearance.
Travis and Daniels were both inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016 along with Fred Foster, and the museum's website lists Daniels as "a pioneer in introducing southern rock sounds into mainstream country music." Born in North Carolina, Daniels began working as a session musician before releasing his own music, blending Southern rock, bluegrass and country into his own unique sound all with the help of his iconic fiddle. He died on Monday morning at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tennessee from a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83 years old.