The legendary Charlie Daniels reminisces about the Volunteer Jam performance that nearly brought him to tears YouTube/Screenshot

Just a few short months after the music died, it came alive again on the Volunteer Jam V stage.

And Charlie Daniels was there to see it firsthand.

And yes, the moment still haunts him to this day.

In an exclusive interview with Rare Country, the legendary front man of The Charlie Daniels Band recalled the January 1979 performance in which the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd joined him on stage for a haunting instrumental version of “Free Bird.” It was the first time the band had performed since the tragedy claiming the lives of two pilots, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie, roadie Dean Kilpatrick and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant.

“It was such a poignant moment,” Daniels told Rare Country. “Some of the guys playing were still hurt really bad from the crash. They went and did this instrumental version of “Free Bird” and I just remember watching as the spotlight caught the moment perfectly.”

It’s these sorts of moments that Volunteer Jam has been known for 40 years. Scheduled to take place August 12, this year’s event will help support the efforts of The Journey Home Project and include performances from country legends such as Trace Adkins, Tracy Lawrence, Craig Morgan, The Oak Ridge Boys and Montgomery Gentry…just to name a few.

Tricia Despres is a senior correspondent for Rare Country, based out of Chicago. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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