How Charlie Daniels Saved the Life of a Rock Star - Soapbox Jr.
"Stopping to give someone a helping hand is not time wasted but time invested. Let’s all make the day count." - Charlie Daniels
Dad was a caring man; dad was a man of faith, and dad was a very humble man.
In his memoir, “Never Look at the Empty Seats,” – now in paperback HERE - dad talks about a lot of people he’s met and many aspects of his life. Still, there’s one that he fails to mention, and it’s a story you most likely would not know about unless you subscribed to “The Charlie Daniels Podcast," you can check that episode out HERE
It’s a very significant moment in his life, but his integrity and humble nature would have kept him from telling this story to the masses, at least not in the way that it was put to me by the individual at the center of it.
According to Brad Arnold, frontman for the band 3 Doors Down, dad saved his life.
No, dad didn’t save him from drowning or pull him from a burning building; he helped initiate a process that would keep Brad from going down a road that has killed many recording artists, particularly in the rock music world.
First, a little backstory on Brad and 3 Doors Down, in case you aren’t familiar with them.
Brad grew up in Escatawpa, Mississippi, the youngest of seven kids, and he began listening to the CDB because his two older brothers were big fans, so he was exposed to dad’s music at an early age.
As he got older, he would revisit dad’s catalog and have a new appreciation for the music of the era, and especially the music of “Mr. Charlie,” as Brad still calls him.
Brad and some of his high school buddies formed 3 Doors Down in 1996, with Brad initially playing drums. They needed a lead singer, so Brad stepped up to handle vocals as well.
They started playing Mississippi bars regularly, even as they were too young to be in them.
Brad wrote his first song, “Kryptonite,” in math class in high school. I’m not sure how well he did in the class, but it seems like it worked out for him in the end.
The band recorded an EP simply titled “3 Doors Down” in 1998. Brad and the band took a CD to a local rock radio station that started playing “Kryptonite.” In fact, it was the number one most requested song for fifteen straight weeks. They were creating a buzz, and their popularity was growing.
They began playing gigs outside of Mississippi and even performed a showcase at the legendary CBGB in New York, where they signed with a manager who would be instrumental in getting them signed to Republic Records.
All from that original EP.
In 2000, 3 Doors Down exploded onto the alternative rock music scene.
Their first album, ‘The Better Life,’ has sold over six million copies to date. The band’s success continued with their second album, ‘Away from the Sun,’ which achieved platinum status just two months after being released, and more hit albums were to follow.
The band toured heavily from 2000 to 2013, but right in the middle of that, someone from Brad’s camp reached out to dad’s camp about trying to arrange a meeting and a possible writing session together.
On May 30, 2006, dad and Brad spent a big part of the day together writing and talking at Twin Pines Studio, writing at least a good part of a song together that - as of this writing - the band hasn’t recorded yet, but it was a dream come true for Brad. His love of dad’s music was a major influence on him and dad was one of his musical heroes.
He may make his living playing alternative rock music, but he’s a good ol’ southern boy at heart.
The two stayed in touch and crossed paths from time to time while performing.
As happens all too often, the excesses of the rock star life began to take their toll on Brad and his health, both physically and mentally, and he appeared to be heading down the same path that took many talented people before their time; artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and many others.
Brad’s alcoholism was taking him to a dark place, and everyone he knew was telling him that he needed to get into rehab for treatment, but he wouldn’t listen.
Deep inside, he knew it too, but pride kept him from accepting it. In his words, “nobody wants to hear how they need to change.”
His rock bottom moment came in Japan back in early 2016. 3 Doors Down was performing for U.S. military bases. The darkness was setting in, and Brad just felt he needed to talk to somebody. He couldn’t get any of his friends or family on the phone, so he decided to try a FaceTime video call with dad, who answered, and they talked for close to 45 minutes.
Brad told him what he was feeling; dad listened to everything he said and offered up a solution, one that he had heard from many of his loved ones - but it was a solution that Brad repeatedly pushed back on - he needed to get into rehab. Dad told him that if you love your wife and your life and you really want to quit, then do it.
Dad got through to Brad, and he finally came to the realization that rehab was what he needed.
Sometimes it takes one of your heroes to get through to you when others fail.
Brad entered rehab when he returned from Japan, got clean, and never looked back.
Later in 2016, Brad and 3 Doors Down were part of the Charlie Daniels 80th Birthday Volunteer Jam at Bridgestone Arena on November 30. I was there, and they put on a fantastic show.
On January 24, 2023, Brad announced his seventh year of sobriety on his social media accounts.
From dad’s social media accounts, I shared this message to Brad, “Congratulations to Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down on SEVEN years of sobriety. I know of one of the “great cloud of witnesses” above who is actively cheering you on and rejoicing at your achievement. Praise the Lord, and congratulations, my brother! - CD, Jr."
Brad and 3DD continue to perform, and maybe he’ll get around to finishing the song he and dad wrote, and the band also recorded a smokin’ hot version of “In America” that they performed live for a whole tour; hopefully, that will see the light of day as well.
I had a great time talking with Brad and learning the full story of dad's impact on his life.
One person can make a difference, and it makes me very proud that dad helped keep Brad from becoming another casualty of rock n’ roll.
What do you think?
Let’s all make the day count!
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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Check Out The Charlie Daniels Podcast!
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