The Devil Went Down to Georgia
The Charlie Daniels Band
Writer(s): Charlie Daniels,Tom Crain, "Taz" DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, Charles Hayward, James W Marshall (see lyrics here)
Released: May 21, 1979
First Charted: June 22, 1979
Peak: 3 US, 4 CB, 3 HR, 2 GR, 9 RR, 30 AC, 11 CW, 14 UK, 5 CN, 14 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 4.5 US, 0.2 UK, 4.7 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 50.1 video, 138.75 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Charlie Daniels was a fiddle player from North Carolina who started his career as a rock musician and songwriter in the early 1960s. He had a hard time getting embraced. He formed a group in 1971 which mixed country and rock. Unfortunately, “the West Coast seemed to think that the big man was too country, and Nashville didn’t have a clue what to do with him.” AC Even after securing a #9 pop hit with the more rock-oriented Kama Sutra label and moving to the more country-oriented Epic Records, the band were seen as “too frantic and hard” AC for the country market.
However, Hank Williams, Jr. sort of opened the door for a mix of country and rock with his increasingly harder sound throughout the ‘70s that started attracting “hordes of former rockers to his concerts.” AC He used Daniels in recording sessions and called him “one of the best country rockers in the business.” AC The stage was set for the Charlie Daniels Band to have an impact in the country and rock worlds.
When recording the next album, Daniels remembered a poem from his school days that concerned the Devil and temptation. AC “Mountain Whippoorwill” was written in the 1920s by Stephen Vincent Benet. TR Daniels reworked the original story of Satan and Johnny facing off with bows instead of harps. He also tapped Vassar Clements’ 1975 “Lonesome Fiddle Blues,” on which Daniels had played guitar, for the melody. WK The result was “the ultimate fiddle song” AC and “one of the greatest country lyric-led instrumentals in modern history.” AC
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” topped the country charts and reached #3 on the pop charts and became Daniels’ “signature song.” AC The song won the Country Music Association’s Single of the Year award and garnered a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. “Not only did Charlie Daniels give the Devil his due, but he forced Nashville to give Daniels’ style of country music its due.” AC
First posted 10/31/2021; last updated 3/14/2023.