Charlie Daniels was synonymous with country music and Southern rock, yet a decade before scoring his commercial breakthrough as a recording artist with the 1973 novelty pop hit “Uneasy Rider,” the North Carolina native notched a significant feather in his cap when a swirling pop ballad he co-wrote called “It Hurts Me” was cut by one Elvis Presley.
Daniels, who died Monday at 83 following a hemorrhagic stroke, rarely performed the song live, but in the above clip, taken from a 2018 performance at Biloxi, Mississippi’s IP Casino, he prefaces the song by explaining that Presley’s 1935 birth in Tupelo changed the course of his own life when the King of Rock & Roll recorded his song at Nashville’s RCA Studio B. Daniels mentions in the video that the year was 1963, although it was actually January 12th, 1964, when Presley held a session that yielded his version of the tune. A different version, by little-known soul singer Jerry Jackson, was indeed cut in July 1963.
According to the song’s credits, “It Hurts Me” was written by Charles E. Daniels and Joy Byers — but it was actually Byers’ husband, the songwriter and producer Bob Johnston, who co-wrote the song.
Like Presley, Johnston would also play a pivotal role in Daniels’ life, encouraging him to relocate to Nashville to get work as a session player. Daniels listened, and upon arriving in Nashville began work with Johnston in the studio, carving out a resume that included Bob Dylan’s 1969 LP Nashville Skyline. Although famed later in life mainly for his fiddle playing, he contributed bass and guitar to that LP and would also play on other Dylan sessions recorded in Music City, as well as on Ringo Starr’s 1970 album, Beaucoups of Blues.