Charlie Daniels experienced constant career transformations between 1964 and his 2020 passing. In those years, he went from a session musician and backing band member for Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Earl Scruggs and Leonard Cohen to the leader of The Charlie Daniels Band. Even after the CDB became country and Southern rock royalty, the music and nation Daniels loved kept on changing around him. Yet one important thing remained the same on Daniels' road to the Country Music Hall of Fame: his wife, Hazel Daniels.
While touring with a band called The Jaguars, Daniels regularly played a venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma called the Fondalite Club. That's where he met Hazel.
"She's not much of a clubgoer, but she came with a girlfriend of hers one night. And I said, 'Hey I like that curvy little blonde over there. Hey how are you doin'?" Daniels told The Oklahoman in 2014. "It kinda went on from there, you know."
Daniels wed the former Hazel Juanita Alexander in Tulsa on September 20, 1964. Daniels' tour schedule was so busy back then that he hit the road the next day for work, not a honeymoon.
Touring also impacted Daniels' time spent with the couple's son, Charlie Daniels, Jr. The younger Daniels was born on April 28, 1965.
"I came home so anxious to see my family and hold my baby son, and when I picked him up, he started crying. He didn't know who I was," Daniels wrote in an essay for CNS News. "Even after we moved to Nashville in 1967, the periods of separation would continue as I pursued my dreams, logging millions of miles and untold weeks away from my family in the process."
After Charlie Jr. grew up, Daniels made a point to bring Hazel along on the road. By then, the success of Grammy award winner "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Best Country Vocal Performance By a Duo or Group) plus "In America" and "Long Haired Country Boy" and the hard-earned reputation of Daniels' Tennessee-based Volunteer Jam concerts allowed a humble fiddler and songwriter from Wilmington, North Carolina to show his Oklahoma-born bride the world.
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The couple ended up having a bunch of honeymoons well beyond the South and the Southwest, yet their most memorable came in familiar territory: Daniels' Oklahoma State Fair gig on their 50th anniversary.
"We made a joint decision just to go ahead and work that night and treat it like any other night, basically," Daniels told The Oklahoman. "We travel around so much, we have so many special days. We got married in Oklahoma, in Tulsa. My wife is from Tulsa. We got married there 50 years ago that date, and I just decided to go ahead and work that night. So, we're back in Oklahoma after 50 years under some totally different circumstances."
Over the years, Daniels' wife Hazel spoke glowingly about her husband's accomplishments as a country singer.
"It's an honor for me just to be married to him," she told Rare Country in 2016. "He's been a great husband, and he's worked so hard to get here. He's had a long road."
Daniels, a Grand Ole Opry member since 2008, passed away on July 6, 2020 from a hemorrhagic stroke.
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