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Charlie Daniels‘ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” Turns 40

Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels is celebrating big this month as his genre-crossing hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” reaches its 40th year of being the most impactful fiddle-centric song to ever be released.
“People ask me if I imagined ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ would be the success it has been,” says Daniels. “My answer is I had no idea that forty years after the fact we would still be talking about it almost as if it was a new release.”
A worldwide phenomenon, the track became a household name as no one had ever released a song with a storyline so colorful or with the fiddle as the star. Daniels’ aggressive yet strategic performance launched The Charlie Daniels Band into stardom upon the song’s release in May of 1979.
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” song facts:
  • Despite rumors, Daniels was never forced to change the lyrics in the final verse from “S.O.B.” to “son-of-a-gun.” Both versions were recorded on the same day with everyone in agreement that the “son-of-a-gun” version would have a better likelihood of getting radio airplay
  • Covered by Jerry Reed, Lynn Anderson, The Chipmunks, Blues Traveler, The Muppets, Keith Urban, the Zac Brown Band, Colt Ford, Primus, a rap version by K.M.C Kru and a parody by Cletus T. Judd. Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band are just a few of the artists who frequently perform the song live
  • The song won CMA, ACM and GRAMMY® Awards
  • Certified platinum-selling single (over one million units sold)
  • Downloads: Over 2.5 million
  • Album sales: Well over 16 million units sold including copies from The Charlie Daniels Band, as well as soundtrack albums featuring the song
  • Streaming: Over 290 million streams on top three streaming services combined (Apple Music/Spotify/Pandora)

About Jerry Holthouse

Jerry Holthouse
Music editor for Nashville.com. Jerry Holthouse is a content writer, songwriter and a graphic designer. He owns and runs Holthouse Creative, a full service creative agency. He is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of everything music. You can contact him at JerryHolthouse@Nashville.com

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