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The music world has lost two legends in their respective genres this week: Italian composer Ennio Morricone, and American country music icon Charlie Daniels. Each of these men represented completely different worlds of music, but each left groundbreaking legacies through their immediately recognizable sounds and talents.
Morricone, who passed away today at age 91, composed many original pieces, but was known by movie lovers for his epic scores for radio and film like the spaghetti westerns Once Upon a Time in America, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, both directed by Sergio Leone. He also scored everything from modern noir to horror to musical comedy, with one of his latest efforts being for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, for which he earned an Academy Award.
Charlie Daniels died today at 83, and was a practiced multi-instrumentalist by the time he graduated high school. A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 2008, and the Country Music Hall of Fame since 2016. His chart-topping “Devil Went Down to Georgia” was named one CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music as well as one of the 20 Greatest Southern Rock Songs.
Believe me, I am not even scratching the surface on either of these men’s body of work.
One of the things that makes a musician a true legend is the people they influence, and both Morricone and Daniels had their share of musical admirers.
Here’s a few performances of both their works to celebrate the passing of two musical masters.
Charlie Daniels’ musical tributes include:
Rock band Primus’s funky cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia:”
Old Scratch returning back in 2010 in a sequel with Daniels, Mark O’Connor, Johnny Cash, Marty Stewart, and Travis Tritt (as The Devil himself):
3 Doors Down rockin’ version of Daniels’ “In America:”
Ennio Morricone’s influences covered so much ground it is hard to even know where to begin, but here’s some favorites:
The beautiful A Fistful of Dollars performance by The Danish Symphony Orchestra:
One of the coolest celebrations was the 2007 album “We All Love Ennio Marricone,” in which artists ranging from Celine Dion to Herbie Hancock and Roger Waters to Yo-Yo Ma performed his music:
Here’s Metallica’s “Ecstasy of Gold” as well as “The Good The Bad and The Ugly,” with Quincy Jones, Patti Austin and Herbie Hancock:
It is easy to divide people by their personal politics or place of birth, but music brings together those of different races and lifestyles. If you make a great song, it will be noticed by various genres. If you present a timeless score, it will live through several lifetimes. Both these men did that by honing their own style of music.
May they both ride off into that final sunset knowing they have done well.