Charlie Daniels tweeted another head-shaking message on Tuesday suggesting college students “should spend a year picking cotton.” Given cotton picking’s close ties to America’s history with slavery, many on Twitter threw up the racist flag in the comments.
Daniels, 79, is no stranger to controversial remarks. He’s no fan of President Barack Obama or the other Democratic candidates running for president, but he hasn’t thrown his support behind any Republican candidate either.
Here’s what you need to know about the Charlie Daniels Band lead singer.
1. Daniels Thinks ‘Some Kids in College Should Spend a Year Picking Cotton’
An avid tweeter, Daniels’ has not hidden his contempt for entitled college students who shout down dissenting opinions and then rally for free speech. His latest indignation against the youth of America is their lack of hard labor skills. Unfortunately, he picks an example that hits a little close to home for America’s shameful past with slavery.
Twitter fired back, insinuating the tweet has racist overtones. Others felt the commenters were overreacting.
It’s not the first time he’s railed against higher education. Quoting his neighbor, he argued last month that college has depleted the ranks of “good truck drivers.”
His Song ‘This Ain’t No Rag, It’s a Flag’ Was Banned from a 9/11 Memorial Concert
Daniels wrote the song “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s a Flag” in response to the the Sept. 11 terror attacks on America. The opening lyrics read, “This ain’t no rag/it’s a flag/And we don’t wear it on our heads/It’s a symbol of the land where the good guys live,” which some considered racist against Muslims and/or those who wear turbans.
CMT banned him from performing the song at the Country Freedom Concert on Oct. 21, 2001 and Daniels chose not to attend the event because “if my song would be offensive, then my presence would be offensive,” he told Billboard magazine. Arab-Americans protested against his performance in Dearborn, Mich. a few years later because of the song, but the front man for the Charlie Daniels Band argued in an interview with Fox News that the song was not anti-Arab.
It’s not anti-Arab or anti-anything. The only thing it’s `anti’ is the people who bombed us on 9/11. I have people who say you’re putting down people who wear turbans. I’m not. There are good Arabs and bad Arabs, good Greeks and bad Greeks, good people and bad people in any race,” Daniels said. “I’m not a racist person. I came up during the old Jim Crow days. I know what racism is.
Daniels Is Unimpressed With the GOP Presidential Candidates
The right-leaning country rocker spends a fair amount of time lambasting President Barack Obama and the Democratic presidential candidates, but he also hasn’t picked a Republican presidential candidate to support. As front-runner Donald Trump has picked up more delegates, Daniels has argued the GOP establishment needs to put their support behind him (although he never mentions Trump by name).
Before the primary season began, Daniels expressed his admiration for Carly Fiorina in an interview with Rolling Stone. He also wanted to take certain traits from each of the candidates to make a super GOP candidate.
I would like to take about five of the people that are running and take a trait from each one of them and put into [one candidate]. There are several of them that could use Dr. Ben Carson’s humility. There are several of them that could use the fire that [Donald] Trump is bringing into it. There are several of them that could use the common sense that Mike Huckabee has. We’ve just got to pick the one we like the best.
4. Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame This Year
The Country Music Association recently announced Daniels will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year alongside Fred Foster and Randy Travis. Daniels said in statement he was “almost afraid to dream” of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
I have harbored many lofty ambitions, but I was almost afraid to dream that I would ever be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, what a surprise, what a blessing. Thank you God.
The fiddler and guitarist is best known for his number one country hit, “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which transcended country and pop music. He’s also been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009.
5. Broke His Arm in Three Places When It Got Caught in a Spinning Auger
Daniels severely injured his arm in 1980 when his shirt sleeve got caught in a hydraulic auger that he was using to dig post holes around his 75-acre farm near Mount Juliet. The injury caused his arm to fracture in three places and he also broke two fingers, the Ocala Star-Banner reported at the time.
The country singer is also a prostate cancer survivor and suffered a stroke in 2010 while snowmobiling in Colorado. In 2013, he had to have a pacemaker installed to help regulate his heart.
Daniels still lives in Tennesse with his wife Hazel who he married in 1963. They have one son, Charlie Daniels Jr.