What song hit both #3 on the rock charts and #1 on the country charts and featured the violin, of all instruments? The year was 1979, and the group was The Charlie Daniels Band. Yes – it was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which won the group a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance that year. We were all saddened to hear that one of the co-writers of that song, and the keyboardists for the band for 40 years, Joel “Taz” Gregorio, was killed in a car accident in October, 2011 on the way to meet the band’s tour bus for an upcoming performance. Perhaps a special tribute is in order!
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” has been a frequently requested song at Stanton’s. The story line, which is more spoken than sung, involves a challenge by the Devil to a fiddle playing contest with a young man named Johnny. If Johnny wins, he gets a fiddle of solid gold. If he loses, the Devil gets his soul. After each of them plays, it is obvious that Johnny is the better fiddler and wins the golden fiddle – ’cause he’s “the best that’s ever been!”
There are three sheet music formats in which this song is currently available. There is a Piano/Vocal Sheet that comes with a pull-out violin part. It is also available in a Marching Band edition arranged by Michael Brown that features the mallet percussion on the “fiddle” solos. There is also a Concert Band edition arranged by Michael Brown that features a soloist on the “fiddle” parts (solo parts included for flute, violin, clarinet, alto saxophone or mallet percussion) as well as an optional narrator to tell the story. All have been best sellers for years.
So why not pay tribute to one of the writers of this famous tune and get your sheet music of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” in whichever format suits your situation. Then you can do your part to become the “best that’s ever been!”