Posted on 08.28.2020

The Rest of the Story

Keeping with last week’s “Growing Up with…” soapbox theme, this week I thought I’d fill folks in on some things that most people didn’t know about dad and The CDB. The “Rrrr-est of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say. Little tidbits that even the most obsessive fans may not know.

Here’s one that gets asked from time to time. Before the pandemic hit, CDB and The Marshall Tucker Band were supposed to launch the Fire on the Mountain Tour, because that name has significance for both bands.

Every year when we post the anniversary of The CDB’s “Fire on the Mountain” album on social media, you can almost put money on that someone will say, “I love that song.” We then had to explain that the song is by Tucker and that The CDB didn’t have a song called “Fire on the Mountain.” 

The CDB and MTB toured together a lot in the ’70s, especially in the early-mid ’70s. The guys in both bands and crews were pretty close. One day dad and George McCorkle – one of Tucker’s guitar pickers – were talking and dad told him that they were going to call The CDB’s next album 'Fire on the Mountain.' He asked dad if they had a song with that title, and dad told him that they did not.

So, George was inspired to go up to his hotel room and write a song that he hoped to pitch to dad as a title song for the project. He later met dad and played the song for him. Dad loved the song, but from what I understand the FOTM album was already in the process of being mixed, or pressed. The bottom line was that the project was too far along for the band to go back in and do another song, so dad passed on it.

But it worked out pretty well for George because Tucker cut it, and it was a hit. It did extremely well on the AOR – album rock radio – stations that both The CDB and Tucker were being played on, but it also was the MTB’s highest-charting single on the pop charts.

Not too shabby.

In a similar fashion, The CDB’s signature song, the one that shot dad’s career to new heights and became a staple of The CDB set for over 40 years was an afterthought.

Dad has told the tale many times, but a lot of people still don’t know that the 'Million Mile Reflections' album was already finished and about to mixed and mastered when dad was hit with a startling reality.

They had somehow neglected to include a fiddle song on the album.

So, a rehearsal studio was booked and dad started working out a framework of a song with the band. Every band member contributed to the song, so dad split the publishing with the bandmembers by giving them credit for the music, with dad being the sole writer on the lyrics.

Dad said that the title “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” just popped into his head, and as best as he can recall, he was inspired by a poem he had to read in high school called “The Mountain Whippoorwill” about a fiddle contest in a small mountain community, but then took the contest to a new level by making it a battle for a young man’s soul.

Dad finished writing the lyrics and he and the band went back into the studio, and the rest – as they say – is history.

One other misconception I wanted to address. Despite popular opinion, dad wasn’t forced to go back in the studio to change the lyrics near the end of the song because of pressure from the record label or anyone else. In fact, the “Son of a gun” and “SOB” versions were recorded on the same day.

He and his producer realized that there would be some stations that wouldn’t play the “SOB” version, so both were recorded, and while “SOB” was on the album which has now sold close to 4 million copies and was the version that was played on the rock stations of the day, the “Son of a gun” version was a hit on pop and country radio.

It went #1 on the Billboard Country Chart and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was beaten out of the #1 spot by Earth, Wind and Fire and The Knack.

Lastly, people know dad played the fiddle, but he first learned guitar, and later picked up the mandolin, because he and his friends formed a bluegrass band called “The Misty Mountain Boys,” The fiddle was an outgrowth of learning the mandolin because it has the same number of strings, and the finger placement is the same. Makes me wonder if Ricky Skaggs ever tried to pick up a bow over the years.

But despite being known for the fiddle, he mostly played guitar through his career. Even during CDB shows, the fiddle set and encores would most likely make up less than 1/4 of the show.

One thing about his fiddle playing that most people didn’t know, it started getting more difficult for him to perform because of arthritis.

Don’t get me wrong, he could shred a fiddle bow better than anyone, but it got harder to hold the fiddle in place for him. He already didn’t hold it “correctly,” at least as far as proper fiddle players and violinists do, but stiffness in his hands and fingers started requiring modifications to his fiddles because he was having to adjust his grip even more to compensate.

His road crew started putting foam under the fiddle itself to make it where he could hold it against his shoulder a little better, and we started experimenting with chin rests. Because of his beard, it was harder to grip, so I finally took a chin rest and put SteelStik on it, which has the consistency of modeling clay until it dries and I tried to build a higher lip on the chin rest, so he could wedge it under his chin a little better, it wasn’t pretty to look at, but it seemed to work.

We were starting to look at a few more options for the future, including the possibility of 3D printing a brace that might hold onto the back of his shoulder giving him a little more freedom to hold the fiddles the way he needed to, but sadly he passed before we could get any prototypes for him to try out, but he doesn’t need any of that anymore. He’s got all of his dexterity back now, and I bet his fiddle playing is better than ever.

That’s just a little insider information I wanted to pass along, and there may be more to come.

Now you know… The Rrrr-est of the story. Good Day!

Apologies to the late Paul Harvey.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops, our police, our country and the peace of Jerusalem.

God Bless America

— Charlie Daniels, Jr.


Feel free to comment on soapboxes, but please refrain from profanity and anonymous posts are not allowed, we need a name and you MUST provide a valid email address. If you provide an email address, but leave the name as "Anonymous" we will pick a name for you based on your email address. No one other than website administrators will see your email address, not other posters. If you post without a valid email address, your comment (whether positive or negative) will be deleted. — TeamCDB/BW


Check out "Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues" from Beau Weevils - 'Songs in the Key of E'




It Don't Get Any Better
Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie Jr, I love your insight and behind the scenes information. I can attest to the fact that getting old has it's challenges but it is better than the alternative, so far. There has never been one better than Mr. Daniels and I'm glad to know that he is getting some well deserved rest with his Lord & Savoir Jesus. The stories that they are telling are the best I'm sure. Take care and looking forward to next weeks soapbox, God Bless Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy
Thank you
I enjoy reading the soapbox. You are a talented writer. Keep up the great work you are doing. Keep the Faith and God Bless you and your family
Posted by Tracey
Rest of the story
Started listening to the CDB in the early 70's. I knew Charlie was accomplished more on the guitar as some of my favorite songs featured he and the late Tommy Craine playing the signature twin guitar licks and battling back and forth face to face on tunes like Birmingham Blues from the NightRider album. Or Saddletramp from the titled album. Some of their best work in my opinion. Funny you mentioned George McCorkle from MTB ... Earlier this year on my LinkedIn website, I ran across the name of Justin McCorkle. I messaged him and yep, that's George's son. Told him how much I enjoyed his daddy's music in the day. Love the stories Charlie Jr , keep 'em coming! Mark in Shelbyville
Posted by Mark
Fiddle Playing
Even with arthritis, he played perfectly. He truly was “ The best that’s ever been”. 💕
Posted by Rosalita
Lock In, Lock In
WOW! Thank you for sharing the "inside stuff". I remember your father saying that Tommy Crain was a natural on guitar. And he learned so much in helping advance in his guitar skill. Your father always "bent those strings" whenever I saw him on stage, in spite of his arthritic issues. God Bless
Posted by Mark
Charlie on guitar
Didn’t Charlie play the guitar intro to Detroit City on Bobby Bare’s hit. I tried to google but I couldn’t find the reference.
Posted by Rick
Thanks and a Question
Thank you for your insights! I have been a fan of CDB since the late 70's and was sad when Charlie passed away. I met a buddy of mine at UT in 1982 from Mt. Juliet and he was a huge fan - we heard all about the Volunteer Jams and sounded like they were quite the event! I might oughta know this, but wondered if you inherited any of your father's musical talent? Do you pick, play or sing? You most definitely got some of his talent for writing! Thanks!
Posted by Blake
Charlie Daniels
Charlie was my cousin his mom and my great grandmother Molly Shall were sisters. Charlie and my Dad played together as boys. My dad died 3 years ago. Daddy said Charlie let him play trash can lids. He loved his cousin.
Posted by Joyce
3D prototype fiddle holder
I think you should consider bringing the fiddle holder into production. There are probably several old boys out there that would love to pick up that fiddle again if they could just get it to stay in place. Good luck and God Bless you for thinking of that.
Posted by Ciindy
Thank you
Thank you for sharing these memories of your Dad . God bless you and your family.
Posted by John
Posted by WAYNE
Charlie Daniels
Dear Mr Daniels , my daughter got to see your father about ago here in winder ga , she really enjoy him singing his popular song (Devil went down to Ga. I always enjoy listening to his music , Didn’t realize he had started a bluegrass band too, that’s neat, will hang in there , God bless your family , Your dad will be miss , but the music he left behind will be play on.
Posted by Jerry
Charlie juniors soapbox
Good to see you still posting to the soapbox, you don't know me, but your dad, Jimmy and Roger and the rest of the band and crew do as I use to be the Production Manager at Billy Bobs Texas, and was invited on stage to play fiddle with your dad a couple of times. Great times indeed. opportunity of a lifetime. Still miss him greatly. God Bless all of you.
Posted by Martin "Dirt"
Thank you for the stories! They take me back to a sweet place in my younger years. A guy from here, I think his last name was Williams, drove one of the CDB rigs. It was a beautiful truck! Blessings to you and your Mom. Love in His Name Toni
Posted by Toni
Well done
Thank you so much for sharing this. I know it has to mean a lot to you and I am thankful for all that you are doing to keep your Dad’s legacy alive. I have always enjoyed the stories shared. Lifting you and your family up in prayer. Charlie was a great man.
Posted by Michelle
God Winks
Wanted to thank you for your family's strong faith, your posts have been a great inspiration to me and have brought me back to my own. God bless you and thank you!
Posted by D
Another Great Job!
Charlie, you did another great job on the Soap Box! Many thanks.
Posted by Bonnie
Charlie's soap Box
The Soap Box used to celebrate political free speech in the days of early USA . Charlie used his Soap Box to proclaim his views/ wisdom/ prophecy on the events of our day, including their political and social ramification. Mr. Charlie Daniels did this with God's help and wisdom...and he let you know. Jr. it's time to make Dad proud.......Soap Box
Posted by timothy
I will miss your dad's soapbox commentary's a man of common sense and wisdom. Some of that definitely rubbed off on you. I will always miss seeing your dad and CDB play live. Nothing compares to it. Glad I say him.
Posted by Patti