To Adam Warner, meeting Charlie Daniels had always been a dream come true.
A budding country music star was on the verge of achieving his aspirations in 2020.
I was going to meet Charlie that night at the Grand Ole Opry, but I ended up landing a gig up in Wyoming,” Warner recalls recently to PEOPLE. “The only way I was going to make it back in time was to run away.
He said, ‘No worries…there will be other opportunities when I informed him what had happened.” He takes a breather. “That’s something I’ll never forget,” she said.
There isn’t going to be another chance like this one.
It was just over six weeks later that Daniels died of a stroke.
It’s Adam Warner‘s understated admission that “Charlie was more than simply a musical idol to me.” ‘He was such an inspiration in every manner,’ he said.
The two-year anniversary of Daniels’ death, which falls on Wednesday, coincides with the release of Warner’s version of the Daniels classic “Long Haired Country Boy,” which premieres exclusively on PEOPLE ahead of its official release on Wednesday.
When asked about his new album, What We’re Known For, which features a more energetic and even rockier version of the song, Warner responds, “I’ve been playing this song on tour for years.” “My manager, on the other hand, has constantly advised me to re-record it.
One of the songs I didn’t want to re-record for myself was “Stay.” Charlie Daniels is my idol, and I knew I couldn’t compete with what he had accomplished.”
It was only because of the positive response from fans and his own convictions that Warner finally went into the studio and re-recorded this song, which had originally been released in 1975.
According to Warner, who has traveled with the likes of Lee Brice, Jamey Johnson, and Trace Adkins, “I came to the idea that this was going to be another way to keep Charlie’s music alive.” As well as introducing Charlie Parker’s song to a new generation that hasn’t heard it before,
It was clear to Warner that he didn’t want to change the music in a way that no one would recognize it.
In the beginning, he adds, he had the idea of trying to keep the project “as close to Charlie’s as possible while simultaneously making it my own.”
“Because I’m a Southern rocker, I wanted to inject some of my own flavors into the mix. Vocally, I experimented with varying the attack on the choruses and other high points.”
After he strolled inside Capricorn Studios, where Daniels recorded “Long Haired Country Boy” all those years ago and where the new music video for Warner’s rendition was filmed, Warner was able to do just that.
According to Warner, the studio where artists like Otis Redding and The Rolling Stones recorded, “They have basically kept the studio the same since 1973.” “It’s as though you’ve taken a step back in time. As soon as you step through the doors, you get a sense of the magic that has transpired within those walls.”
The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project, a non-profit organization that helps other non-profits generate money for initiatives that benefit veterans of the United States Armed Forces, is maybe the coolest connection to Daniels.
When it comes to helping veterans, “as a Marine Corps veteran myself, whenever I can do something in the community is so extremely important to me,” adds Warner. That I was able to give back to something close to my heart was something Charlie would have been thrilled about. He chuckles heartily. “I was more excited about that than anything else.”
Daniels’ longtime manager David Corlew, co-founder and executive director of Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project and executor of Charlie’s music library, recently met with Warner.
Corlew gave Warner a silver-plated belt buckle that a silversmith in Durango, Colorado had fashioned for the band and given to the country star in the late 1970s as part of Daniels’ personal collection.
“I couldn’t speak,” Warner admits. “I’ve always believed that the music we’ve written and recorded would go on long after we’re gone. Charlie will experience the same fate. His memory will live on forever. I think it’s a fantastic idea.
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