Two years have passed since Charlie Daniels died. On July 6, 2020, the 83-year-old suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. He was still touring, making music and planning projects at the time of his death. But even his passing hasn't halted releasing his music.
Charlie Daniels & Friends: Volunteer Jam 1 - 1974 - The Legend Begins will be available Friday. The recording is from almost five decades ago at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, when Daniels held his first Volunteer jam. The album includes 12 songs along with special guests — or volunteers — Toy Caldwell and Paul Riddle of The Marshall Tucker Band and The Allman Brothers' Dickey Betts and Jamie Nichol. The previously unreleased recordings include "Tennessee Waltz," "Whiskey," which PEOPLE is premiering, "Long Haired Country Boy," "Caballo Diablo," "Jambalaya," "The South's Gonna Do It (Again)," and more.
"After Charlie passed, we started looking at what we have in the vaults," said Daniels' longtime manager and Blue Hat Records president David Corlew. "[Son] Charlie Daniels Jr. was looking through the vaults and came upon the original audio recording of the first Volunteer Jam. We'd forgotten we had recorded the whole show. It's vintage in a lot of ways because it was at the War Memorial."
Corlew called the original Volunteer Jam a "magical evening" and said there was "no other event like it" and that there never will be again.
"They sound like we recorded them yesterday," Corlew said. "The concert was really more about us playing Nashville."
Charlie Daniels Band had never played Nashville before and was excited to make their debut in Music City as a band. The group had been in Macon, Georgia, recording and touring and met the Allman Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band. Daniels invited them up to play.
"It's just fun," Corlew said. "We decided to just name the show, The Volunteer Jam. So, it was the first Volunteer Jam. It's how we came up with the concept. It was just about inviting friends. That's what happened."
Corlew said the original recordings are more impactful every time he hears them — and he listens to them frequently.
"The importance has gotten bigger for me because I listened to it, and I realize that there's… I don't want to say there's nobody alive, but there's nobody around," Corlew said. "There's a lot of songs on the album that fans have not heard. It'll seem like new songs to CDB fans. You can tell the lightness of the evening and how fun and how young Charlie was, and his voice sounds great. It's just really something fun to listen to."
Jason Kempin/Getty Charlie Daniels
The new album isn't the only way Corlew keeps Daniels' memory alive. Chris Young has helped Corlew and The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project generate $1.2 million since the spring of 2021. The veterans non-profit was founded by Daniels and distributes aid to veterans and their families.
"I'm not going to quit," Corlew said. "I'm in too deep into it now to quit. It's so rewarding to see when a veteran is reintegrated back into his civilian life, to his family, to his friends, to his community. That's just the greatest reward."