McDaniel in 2006. (Photo by Sisterphotography)
|Birth name||Melvin Huston McDaniel|
|Born||September 6, 1942|
|Died||March 31, 2011 (aged 68)|
|Associated acts||Chuck Berry|
Melvin Huston McDaniel (September 6, 1942 – March 31, 2011) was an American country music artist. His chart-making years were mainly the 1980s with his hits from that era including "Louisiana Saturday Night", "Big Ole Brew", "Stand Up", the #1 "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On", "I Call It Love", "Stand on It", and a remake of Chuck Berry's "Let It Roll (Let It Rock)".
McDaniel's type of country music has been referred to as "the quintessential happy song" in comparison to other country artists who discuss broken hearts and lost loves. When asked why most of his songs are mostly positive, McDaniel told the Anchorage Daily News that "there's enough things in the world to keep you bummed out" and that his fans don't want to "hear me singing something that's gonna bum 'em out some more."
McDaniel was born in Checotah, Oklahoma, a small town in McIntosh County, Oklahoma. McDaniel, the son of a truck driving father, grew up in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. He was inspired to play music after seeing Elvis Presley on television. His first interest in music was when he learned the trumpet in the fourth grade, but he soon learned the guitar. At age 14, he taught himself the guitar chords to "Frankie and Johnny" and performed at a high-school talent contest. He made his professional debut at age 15 performing in a talent contest at Okmulgee High School. While in high school, he played in several local bands, and after graduation, began working as a musician in Tulsa clubs. While in Tulsa, he recorded several singles for local label (J.J. Cale and wrote and produced his first single, “Lazy Me”. But he decided to leave Oklahoma.
After marrying his high school sweetheart, McDaniel began performing in Tulsa. From there, he had an unsuccessful trip to Nashville, followed by quite a bit of success in Anchorage, Alaska, performing in the oil fields. After two years there, he returned to Nashville and landed a job as a demo singer and songwriter with Combine Music. With the help of music publisher Bob Beckham, Mel signed to Capitol Records in 1976 and released his first single, “Have a Dream on Me”.
His career finally took off with “Louisiana Saturday Night” in 1981, and in early 1985 he scored his only No. 1 hit with "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On". Other Top 10 hits include "Right in the Palm of Your Hand" (later covered by Alan Jackson in 1999), "Take Me to the Country", "Big Ole Brew", "I Call It Love", and "Real Good Feel Good Song".
McDaniel was a member of the Grand Ole Opry since January 11, 1986. and made frequent appearances on the show.
On November 14, 1996, he had a near-fatal fall into an orchestra pit while he was performing at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. This ended his touring career and he underwent several surgeries thereafter. McDaniel never recovered from his injuries. On June 16, 2009, McDaniel suffered a heart attack, putting him in a medically induced coma in a Nashville area hospital according to The Tennessean. McDaniel's wife, Peggy, requested the prayers of the singer's fans, saying his situation was "not good." McDaniel recovered from the heart attack, but on February 19, 2011, McDaniel was diagnosed with lung cancer and died at his home on the evening of March 31, 2011, as a result of the disease. He was 68 years old.