BRADENTON - Lou Gehrig's disease silenced the music on the Suncoast this week as guitarist Dan Toler lost his courageous fight against ALS. But friends and fans all over the world say the man will live on through his music.
Friends remember Dan as a kind man who loved God, his family, his friends and his music. And they say he played a guitar like none other.
They say he was known and admired by musicians all over the world. "Dan Toler is a southern rock genius guitarist, that's what he is," says Steve Fayetee, owner of eternal sound studio. "The guy was a beast, just a shredder. He was a great guitarist, he had great tone."
Percussionist Chaz Trippy met Dan and his brother David back in 1978. "They started the Greg Allman Band, and they ask me to join, and I was flabbergasted."
The band hit the big time. "We got the number one band in the country at the time, the number one song, number one video, which was ‘I'm No Angel.’ It's got a signature lick on it that all guitar players try to get, but they don't quite get it."
He became known as “Dangerous” Dan Toler. "Well back in the Dickey Betts and Great Southern days, Dickey Betts…it was obviously his band, and Dan was supposedly the 2nd guitarist. And they were doing a show one night, and Danny just took off, just burning. And that’s when Dickey stood back and said ‘this guy is dangerous’," says Trippy.
Those were great days. "I played percussion with him, and it was just wonderful, because he would turn around and he would make these sounds that were just so sweet, so sensuous, and smile…and it would just energize you. And his brother was the drummer, so we had a really nice rapport," says Trippy.
After Dan was diagnosed with ALS, he dreaded most the time when he couldn't play anymore. “He had a pencil in his one hand and he was making the motion of breaking it. Then he pointed to the guitar and then to his heart, and he told me before he lost his speech, that when he stops playing guitar is when he'll really stop living,"
Dan died in his sleep Sunday night with his beloved wife Debby nearby. But friends and fans say his music will live on forever.
Dan's wife Debby was not up to talking to ABC 7 Tuesday. Our deepest sympathy goes out her and to the family.