Aug. 25 marks 37 years since The Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was king of the country music charts. The lively bluegrass song is one of the most recognizable tunes ever. In fact, we’d dare to guess you couldn’t find a person (over the age of 20) who doesn’t know the song.
The iconic track was a part of the band’s 1979 album, Million Mile Reflections. While The Charlie Daniels Band did write the song, the melody came from someone else. The music was first written by Vassar Clements and was an octave lower than what we hear today. It was previously titled “Lonesome Fiddle Blues” and released on Clement’s 1975 album. Charlie Daniels actually played guitar on that album and then later recorded the song with his band, adding lyrics and changing the melody.
In honor of the song’s big anniversary, check out this video of The Charlie Daniels Band performing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” at the Grand Ole Opry in 2008.
The song is undeniably the band’s biggest hit. It ruled the charts in 1979, hanging out on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles charts for fourteen weeks, peaking at number one. It even earned Daniels a Grammy later that year for “Best Country Vocal Performance.”
The single was featured in the beloved 1980 film Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta. It was also on the movie’s soundtrack, which reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums charts.