Charlie Daniels talks his celebrated career ahead of performance at The Calvin Gilmore Theater

The anchor of the Charlie Daniels Band never will forget the landmark waves that the movie “Urban Cowboy” made to start the 1980s.

Among the band performances in the film, Daniels, who flexed his bow and fiddle including “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” summed it up as “pretty dog-gone special” with ideal timing.

Daniels and his entourage will entertain at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 26 at the Calvin Gilmore Theater, 8901 N. Kings Highway, on the northern tip of Myrtle Beach. Buy tickets 843-913-4000, 800-843-6779 or www.thecarolinaopry.com, and get more details at www.charliedaniels.com.

Happy to chat by phone last week, Daniels said “Urban Cowboy,” with its soundtrack full of all-stars, including Bonnie Raitt, Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee – who each also took turns singing in the movie, “came along at a time” spurring the opportunity for young people at the time to see country music as cool.

Mix in John Travolta, fresh from “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever” cinematic blockbuster musicals, “as the biggest teen on the planet,” wearing jeans and boots, and riding a mechanical bull amid a love story, “and he turned the whole thing upside down,” Daniels remembered.

“This was probably a lot of American kids’ first experience to country music dancing,” he said. “It made a big dent in the country music business. It was kind of a ground swell.”

Daniels appreciated the “big honor” in being chosen to play in the movie, and that he understood why “several hours went by” as producers and camera operators shifted after each take of the band to amass all the angles and right lighting around the stage.

Induction this past October at the Country Music Hall of Fame last year, along with fellow N.C. natives Randy Travis and Fred Foster, gave Daniels what he called “an emotional night for everybody in Nashville.”

He lauded Foster, “a legend behind the scenes” who founded Monument Records, and Travis, who continues rebounding slowly but steadily from a stroke in 2013.

“He did so much for the brand,” Daniels said of Travis’ hit records, and film and TV roles, from the mid-1980s into this century.

“I try to imagine the courage,” Daniels said, still floored from seeing Travis, shifting from a wheelchair to a walker to accept his hall-of fame induction award, then stand and sing “Amazing Grace.”

Release of memoir booked

That whole evening also gave Daniels, a Grand Ole Opry member since 2008, “the catalyst” to finish his autobiography, a project he said he has chipped away at for “60 years” in a music career spanning more than five decades.

“The next day, I stayed home and wrote the ending,” he said, recounting how he then “backfilled” some portions where he had paused on documenting.

The title, “Never Look at the Empty Seats: A Memoir,” slated for release Oct. 24 by Thomas Nelson Inc., marks “kind of a nod to accentuate the positive,” Daniels said.

Musicians pursuing success on stage, “regardless of how you start,” will encounter halls with low attendance, but that provides the impetus to give a show and wow everyone who shows up.

Father of a son with his wife of 52 1/2 years, Hazel, Daniels said his routine ways of keeping his ticker thumping smoothly – especially with a pacemaker implanted in March 2013, after a bout with pneumonia – include a half- to full hour of exercise “every day,” and that performing 100 concerts a year also affords him “a labor of love.”

The Charlie Daniels Band just played in his hometown Leland-Wilmington area, in the latter’s Thalian Hall, on Oct. 26, two days before Daniels’ 80th birthday. His heart also beats for another reason tied to his local roots: a 93-year-old aunt, from his mother’s side, “the only living relative on either side of my family” from childhood, he said.

Staying active with charities also flows in Daniels’ blood, a signature just like his 10-gallon hats. The Journey Home Project (www.thejourneyhomeproject.org), for which he is chairman, helps veterans make the transition back to civilian life. He said recipients have benefited with access to education, as well as families in need of cars and furniture.

“I remember the Second World War and the day Pearl Harbor was bombed,” Daniels said, reminding everybody that so many returning service personnel have needed help, back then and now.

“There are a lot of good civilian organizations,” he said of the teamwork in collective awareness, adding humbly, “We just happen to be one of them.”

If you go

WHO: The Charlie Daniels Band

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Calvin Gilmore Theater, 8901 N. Kings Highway (U.S. 17 Business), at junction of U.S. 17, on northern tip of Myrtle Beach – home of “The Carolina Opry,” “Time Warp,” and “Thunder and Light” with All That!

HOW MUCH: $62.35 or $68.80.

ALSO: Gaither Vocal Band, 6 p.m. Oct. 15, for $59.15, $75.25 or $86.

INFORMATION: 843-913-4000, 800-843-6779 or www.thecarolinaopry.com, and www.charliedaniels.com

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