Country star Charlie Daniels, singer of 'Devil Went Down to Georgia,' dies at 83

FILE PHOTO: The Charlie Daniels Band performs "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with Brad Paisley (not pictured) at the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country music band leader Charlie Daniels, singer and fiddler player on the Grammy-winning hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died on Monday at age 83 at a hospital in Tennessee, his publicist said.

Daniels, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, died from a stroke, according to a statement from his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs.

A fiddler, guitarist, singer and songwriter, Daniels founded The Charlie Daniels Band in 1972 and maintained a busy tour schedule for decades with more than 100 dates each year. The band’s hits included “Uneasy Rider,” “Long Haired Country Boy” and “In America.”

“I love what I do,” Daniels said in a bio posted on the band’s website. “I look forward to entertaining people. When show time gets here, I’m ready to go, ready to go play for them. It’s a labor of love.”

The 1979 song “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which featured Daniels on vocals and fiddle, has been called one of the best country songs of all time. The song, the story of a young man who challenges the devil to a fiddle-playing contest, won a Grammy for best country vocal by a group.

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Daniels began his career playing in a bluegrass band before moving to Nashville to work as a session musician for artists including Bob Dylan. He also recorded gospel albums and won a Dove Award in 1995.

In 1980, Daniels played himself in the movie “Urban Cowboy” starring John Travolta.

“An outspoken patriot, beloved mentor, and a true road warrior, Daniels parlayed his passion for music into a multi-platinum career and a platform to support the military, underprivileged children, and others in need,” a statement on the band’s website said.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis