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Heart of the NFR Blog

Jul 6, 2020

Charlie Daniels – It Don’t Get No Better Than That (1936-2020)

By Brian Hurlburt

Charlie Daniels and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo fit together like horse and saddle.

Or cowboy and hat.

Or a barrel racer and a fast, talented horse.

And, most appropriately, they fit together like Charlie Daniels and his world-famous fiddle …

The legendary country musician and icon passed away at 83 on July 6, 2020. His songs and presence at the Wrangler NFR will be missed by fans, competitors and event organizers.

10176051_917006368310050_1343934004372491965_n“They don’t make them like him anymore. He was a God-fearing, patriotic son of a gun,” said 25-time Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association world champion Trevor Brazile. “He was always thinking about others and gave back to so many. He was one of those bigger than life heroes to me!”

Daniels was such a huge part of the Wrangler NFR that in 2015, Las Vegas Events and PRCA leadership asked him to record the definitive NFR song. During the 10 days and nights of the NFR, Daniels regularly performed at Las Vegas venues and also at the Thomas & Mack Center prior to the rodeo action.

Charlie and his NFR song, “It don’t get no better than that”, were a 95 ride, right from the start. As part of the festivities surrounding the song’s release, Daniels was given the key to Las Vegas by Mayor Carolyn Goodman and also performed it live at the Thomas & Mack Center prior to the eighth go-round.

As I wrote in 2017 after interviewing the legend, it took him about 8 seconds to say yes when asked to write the definitive rodeo song.

“There’s no doubt about it … the Wrangler NFR in Las Vegas is my favorite time of year,” Daniels said that day. “Being such a big rodeo fan, writing a song about cowboys and cowgirls, broncs and bulls, and the excitement that surrounds the Wrangler NFR in Vegas every year was a natural for me.”50083595358_81894d9677_c

There was always an added level of energy any night Daniels was at the Thomas & Mack Center, and he would spend time prior to the dirt action shaking hands and taking photos with many of the competitors. There aren’t a lot of folks who strike awe in a world-class rodeo competitor, but Daniels was one of them. The respect was shared between country legend and the rodeo stars.

“I absolutely love rodeo and I believe it’s the ultimate sport, and there’s no doubt to me that the Wrangler NFR is the greatest show on earth,” Daniels said. “This is the best of the best battling for 10 nights in a row. Everything about it is world-class, from the pyrotechnics to the grand entry, and watching the cowboys and cowgirls lay it on the line like they do is unbelievable and inspiring.”

Even the newer generation of rodeo stars loved and respected Daniels for his talent and personality.

50084178271_ed0c2737ac_k“I am really saddened by the news of his passing,” said reigning 6-time world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey. “He was always a great friend of rodeo and will be missed by many!”

Daniels’ many accolades included the 1998 Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music, and the 2005 BMI Icon Award at the 53rd annual Country Music Awards and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

As only Charlie could write it, sing it and fiddle it, we give him the final word, just as he wrote in the NFR’s theme song.

“At the NFR … it don’t get no better than that.”

The same could be said for Charlie Daniels.

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