The year was 2007. I just walked onto Charlie Daniels’ tour bus at Jamboree In The Hills in Morristown, OH.
I missed the meet and greet with him because I was onstage introducing .38 Special, but had done a phone interview with him a couple days prior, and festival staff had arranged for us to meet in person before he took the stage that night.
When I first saw him he wasn’t wearing his signature cowboy hat, and I remember thinking, “WOW! He isn’t nearly as tall as I thought he was!” His stage presence was always so much larger than life, so that just kinda took me by surprise.
His tour manager introduced us and Charlie said, “Hey Chad, have a seat!” Sitting across the table from Charlie Daniels on his tour bus is something I never thought would happen, but it did. We chatted for a few minutes, and he then autographed a photo for me. I actually still have that photo and guest pass hanging on the wall in my home studio.
As I got up to leave I said, “I really appreciate you taking the time to hang out for a few minutes. Have a great show tonight…I gotta go and get the .38 Special boys off the stage, do some announcements, then get ready to intro you!”
He said, “No problem. Sounds like they are almost done, so go do your thing. I’ll see ya out there!”
We shook hands, and about 30 minutes later I was onstage telling the crowd to make some noise for The Charlie Daniels Band.
Today, we remember the legendary Charlie Daniels. He passed away this morning at age 83 from a hemorrhagic stroke at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tennessee.
He was one of the most down to earth, nicest guys I’ve ever met. He loved his fans, and he loved performing for them. I’ve seen him in concert numerous times, and had the pleasure of interviewing several times.
The last time we talked was back in October of last year before his show at Jergel's.
Charlie Daniels was no stranger to Pittsburgh, and even though he got asked a lot over the years, he was kind enough to share the story of why he included the line “Just go and lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan” in his song America.
I also asked him, “What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the years?” His answer was a simple, but powerful one.
“Every day is important. Just try to be happy today. Don’t try to relive yesterday. Don’t try to pre-live tomorrow. Live today.”
That complete interview is below.
#RIP Charlie Daniels. You are definitely going to be missed.
Photo: Getty Images