October , 1979
By David Huff
Charlie Daniels Band
People and music are what they love… Charlie Daniels
He is not your everyday run-of-the-mill rock star. In fact, he is far from it. You would never know who he was if you bumped into him on the streets, but if you stood there awhile and talked to him, you'd never forget him.
Born in Littleton, North Carolina, Daniels’ sudden rise to the top in both the country and rock music charts is a little less than remarkable. His latest album, Million Mile Reflection, is already gold. A single from it, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", has been acclaimed everywhere.
"It feels great. I love it," said Daniels about his latest album. "I love having big crowds and selling records.
"You know, everything that goes into making the success of this band, I love it and anything that contributes to it. That is why we work awful hard out there. That million miles on the album is not fantasy, it is fact. I know that I have travelled over a million miles. It's been a long time, but it is gratifying, it is real gratifying. "
"I could never be blasé about anything. If I don't, I just have to say that I don't. So, I feel great about this. I love it."
It has been a long, hard road for Charlie Daniels. He will be the first to admit it. There is no mystique or image about Daniels. He is as honest and sincere off the stage as he is on.
"My life would probably bore the hell out of an awful lot of people," said Daniels as he leaned back on his chair. "When I go home, I do real simple things. I may go out and get on my tractor and plow some or bushhog something."
"I love to ride my horses, I ride them all the time I like to put in a hard day's work doing something. It would probably bore the hell out of most people, but I love it. Like they say, different strokes."
"I don't have an image. I am, what I am. I am the same person as I was on stage, and if you see me tomorrow, I'll still be the same person. I don't believe in images, realty, because some images you have to live up to them. You’re supposed to be a lover and you have to fornicate yourself to death, I just don't do that. I just am what I am, that's all, no more or no less than what I am right here."
The Charlie Daniels Band is about music, plain and simple. Quality is what they stand by, whether it's their music, a show or the personnel who make up the CDB entourage.
"We always try to put on the best show that we can," said Daniels. "We are interested in quality. We are not interested in playing ten minutes over and costing the promoter all that money. We come off the stage when we are supposed to. We are interested in being on time when we are supposed to be up there.
"Unless somebody has a tremendous screw-up in the front part of the day, we walk on stage right exactly, the minute, we are supposed to. That is quality. I don't know if anything sets us apart or not from other groups. All I'm saying is that when all the people — and there are 37 people in this outfit — leave town tonight, your population is going to drop by 37. It's not a minor population explosion, but they too are interested in quality. That's what we are all about.
"We are interested in doing this job the very best that we can, night in and night out. Cutting the very best records that can, the best performance, the best arrangements, the best of everything we are capable of doing. The bottom line to me is quality. That is what we are all about."
Daniels' latest album is the biggest selling album to date, far surpassing Fire on the Mountain, and the single....
"It was the simplest song on the album to write," laughed Daniels referring to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". "It was the last thing that we did. We just needed to have a fiddle tune in there and I went in and wrote one. There is no rhyme or reason or any romantic story to it. There isn't any inspiration, we just needed to have a fiddle tune.
Success is like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder. Everyone has their own version of it, everyone has their own way of achieving it.
"Everyone has a different formula for success," explained Daniels, "If I had to say two or three things, first of all, it has to be somebody who is doing something that they really love to do. Before they get along and saddled down with a family, with two car payments, a mortgage, and all of that stuff if they can, if they can't, then do it after that.
"Find something that you like to do, and not because it pays well. Say your daddy is an accountant and he has made millions of dollars in his lifetime. It's a good profession, respectable, it's all the things they want you to be But, no matter how much your parents love you, you have to stop and say 'What do I want to be, what do I want to learn, what do I want to pursue with my life, put the energies of my life into'?"
"My advice to anybody would be to do something that you enjoy doing because you are going to be working an awful lot. If you are unhappy eight hours a day, then it is going to ruin your entire day. So do something that you like. "
"If you have to start out doing something humble, do it like you like it, you will excel way above the other people who have gone into their profession just because mom and dad said it was the thing to do. You will far out do them because their hearts aren't in it. Yours is."
Loving your job and sticking it out until you make it, is certainly a key to any type of success, no matter what profession. "You can impress people a million miles away," Daniels said, "when you do something good enough, you have to love what you do and you have to stick with it until you get what you want out of it, And, don't stop until you get what you want out of it. "
"If you are 50 years old when you start realizing it, that's alright. That's fine as long as you keep the faith and stay with it. "I was 35 years old when I started in this end of the business. Big deal, so what. I was 35 years old. I will be 43 this month. What am I supposed to do now, lay down and die, because I'm 43. Hell no. Piss on everybody. Every time you turn around you're going to see me son. "
"I'm going to be right here. I am going to keep tromping on, putting out all those records. They may not sell as well as this one did. They may even sell better than this one did. Whatever it is, I will be here doing it because I love what I am doing. I don't want to do anything else. I wouldn't trade jobs with Hugh Hefner or Jimmy Carter. I am happy with who I am, what I am doing and I am going to be here doing it. And everybody who is not as sincere about it as I am, had better look out. They had better go on with their own damn business. If you want to be successful, that is what I would say to do."
Daniels is not one to mix words with people when there is something that he want to say or do. If there is something bothering him, he'll let you know. One such incident involved the Ku Klux Klan using his hit song, "The South's Going To Do It Again," as the background music to radio commercials to be used for a KKK membership drive.
"Well that happened quite by accident in a way," recalled Daniels. "David Duke, I think that was his name, was the one who was the head of the Ku Klux Klan at the time, and he was cutting radio commercials up in New York, or somebody in their outfit was cutting some radio commercials, and they had our song playing in the background I didn't know anything about it. "
"There happened to be a New York Times reporter doing a story on him, or whoever it was up there at the time, and they heard the song and said that they were using it for background music for a membership drive. I didn't know anything about it and they never asked me about it. A friend of mine that works for the Nashville Banner called me up and asked me about it, and I told him that I was very unhappy that they were doing it. "
"I will say one thing for the Ku Klux Klan, they were gentlemen. They dropped it immediately, so we didn't have any real flap about it. "
"Our songs aren't meant for that. Our songs don't mean what the Ku Klux Klan means, there is no way they can put that sort of thing together with this band because it doesn't exist in this band. We are very southern and very proud of it, but, we are as far away from the Ku Klux Klan as anybody. I just don't want my music used for those reasons."
Many people have the misconception that people who are in the music business have money running out of their ears. Your Led Zeppelin’s, Rolling Stone’s and Paul McCartney&rsquo s do, but a vast majority are not as rich as some would think. "If I made as much money as everybody thought I did, I would probably buy out Rockefeller," smiles Daniels. "We carry three semis, two buses, a motor home, 37 people and a big production with lights and sound. We are doing alright, but, I am not a millionaire.
"I have no complaints. Everything is alright. The point that I am trying to make is that there is never any problem in what to do with money. Yes, I did spend some money on a house, I still owe on it. I might buy a new horse. I love to spend money. If I am going to spend some money, it's going to be on people. "
"I don't believe in worrying about things you can't control. If someone beats up one of the road crew and takes my guitar, it's going to happen. There is not a damn thing I can do about it. I am not going to sit around and cry about it."
As Million Mile Reflection takes off, so is the Charlie Daniels Band. Last month, they hosted the Midnight Special and sandwiched in between appearances on the Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas Shows in Las Vegas. They are also going to spend some time in Los Angeles taping a special with Kenny Rogers.
In November, Daniels and his band will take off to Europe. They will then proceed to the Orient, New Zealand and Australia next year.
But no matter where Daniels goes, what countries he performs in, or what languages barriers he has to overcome, when he goes onstage, he will be playing and caring for those people out there because they cared enough to pay money to come see him perform.
"I am not a very analytical sort of person," said Daniels in a soft voice, "but our ability to relate to people just happens. It is because of good things and good feelings on our part and their part. I couldn't put it in any sort of philosophical or psychological terms. It is just like a catalyst when we get together with a crowd.
"That is what we get paid for, to go on stage and play. If anybody thinks he is going to step on stage in front of a whole bunch of people who have gone through what people have to go through to get to concerts these days', it somebody goes into a record store and buys one of your records at the price they have to pay for them and it you don't have any feeling for that person, then you are an asshole. And that is a strong word for me. I love those people. I care about them, I care about all of our audiences.
"When you have people throwing firecrackers in the crowd, I'm not afraid that I am going to get hurt. Somebody in the audience may get hurt and I don't like that. I care what happens with the people out there. I give a damn about them. I care about them.
"I'd love every one of them to walk out of this hall and say they had the best damn time we have ever had That is my goal.” If I can do that, then I 'have done something. That is what my own inspiration is as far as people are concerned.
"If we can make them happy, you know, give them two hours out of the day where they thoroughly enjoyed themselves, then we have accomplished our goal.
"That is the name of the game."