Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels' Classic 'Long Haired Country Boy'

·5 min read

Adam Warner had always hoped to meet his musical hero, Charlie Daniels.

And back in 2020, the aspiring country music artist was close to making his dream come true.

"Charlie was playing at the Grand Ole Opry, and I was supposed to meet [him] that night, but I ended up getting a gig up in Wyoming," remembers Warner in a recent interview with PEOPLE. "There's no way I was going to get back in time. I called my publicist and told him about it, and he was just like, 'No worries…there will be other opportunities.'" He pauses. "I'll never forget that."

Because there would not be another opportunity.

Daniels died of a stroke just six weeks later.

Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”
Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”

Jason W. Ashcraft / JWA Media Adam Warner

RELATED: Charlie Daniels' Friends and Family Remember the Country Legend Ahead of This Year's Volunteer Jam

"Charlie was not just a musical hero to me," says Warner quietly. "I just found him to be such an inspiration in every way."

However, Warner has found ways ever since to bring Daniels with him on his road to country stardom, most namely via his version of the Daniels' classic "Long Haired Country Boy," which exclusively premieres on PEOPLE before its official release on Wednesday — which happens to be the two-year anniversary of Daniels' passing.

"I've been playing this song on the road for years," says Warner of his upbeat and even rockier version of the song which is featured on his new album What We're Known For. "But my manager has always told me I should re-record the song. And for me personally, it was really one of those songs that I didn't want to re-record. I struggled with it because Charlie is a hero of mine, and I knew I was never going to outshine what he created."

Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”
Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”

Jason W. Ashcraft / JWA Media Charlie Daniels and David Corlew

Nevertheless, based on fan feedback and the constant assurance in his gut that re-recording the song would be the right thing to do, Warner did find himself in the studio to take a stab at the song originally released in 1975.

"I came to the realization that this was going to be another way to keep Charlie's music alive," says Warner, who has toured with the likes of Lee Brice, Jamey Johnson and Trace Adkins. "And at the same time, maybe even introduce this song to a younger audience that doesn't know who Charlie even was."

One thing Warner says he knew for sure was that he didn't want to transform the song into something no one was going to recognize.

"I went into it with the mindset that I was going to try to keep it as close to how Charlie did it, but also make it my own," he says. "I'm a Southern rock guy too, so I wanted to put my own flair on it. So vocally, I kind of changed the attack up a little bit on the choruses and such."

Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”
Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”

Jason W. Ashcraft / JWA Media David Corlew and Adam Warner

And Warner did just that when he walked into Capricorn Studios, the very same studio in Georgia where Daniels recorded the song all those years ago and the studio that is captured within the new music video for Warner's version of "Long Haired Country Boy."

"They have literally kept the studio the same since 1973," says Warner of the studio not only used by Daniels, but fellow legends such as Otis Redding and The Rolling Stones. "You're literally walking into the past. As soon as you walk through the doors, there's this feeling that comes over you where you can feel the magic that's happened in those walls."

Perhaps the coolest connection to Daniels himself is the decision Warner made to donate a portion of the proceeds raised from the track to The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project, a not-for-profit organization that assists other not-for-profits in securing funds to help causes that benefit veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”
Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”

Jason W. Ashcraft / JWA Media Bill Vandiver, David Corlew, Adam Warner, Jason Ashcraft and Don Grubbs

RELATED: Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels Dead of Stroke at 83 as Artists Pay Tribute

"Being a Marine Corps veteran myself, anytime that I can do something in the veteran community is so very important to me," says Warner. "Charlie would've loved that I was going to be able to give back to something that was near and dear to him." He laughs. "I think I was more pumped about that than anything."

Recently, Warner was even able to meet Daniels' long-time manager David Corlew, who is also the co-founder and executive director of Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project, and executor of Charlie's music catalog. Corlew presented Warner with an heirloom from Daniels' personal collection, a silver-plated belt buckle that a silversmith in Durango, Colorado made for the band and gave to the country star in the late 1970s.

Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”
Adam Warner Breathes New Life into the Charlie Daniels’ Classic “Long Haired Country Boy”

Jason W. Ashcraft / JWA Media Charlie Daniels' Belt Buckle

"I was speechless," says Warner. "I've always said that after we pass, the songs that have been created and recorded will always be out there in the universe. The same thing will happen with Charlie. He will always live on. I just think that's such a cool thing."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting