Former Allman Brothers Band guitarist “Dangerous” Dan Toler passed away earlier this morning after struggling with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was 64.
Born in Indiana, Toler first entered the extended Allman Brothers Band family as a member of Dickey Betts’ Great Southern. Toler played guitar in the group during one of The Allman Brothers band’s hiatuses in the late ’70s and appears on the classic Betts albums Dickey Betts & Great Southern and Atlanta’s Burning Down. When The Allman Brothers Band reformed in 1979, Betts brought Toler into the fold, reinstating the band’s trademark twin guitar approach for the first time since Duane Allman’s death in 1971. Toler appeared on The Allman Brothers Band’s Enlightened Rogues (1979), Reach for the Sky (1980) and Brothers of the Road (1981) before the group split for a second time in 1982. His brother Frankie Toler also joined the band in the ‘80s after founding drummer Jaimoe was dismissed from the group.
“There was basically a re-audition, but I don’t recall any other guitar players being there for it,” Toler told Relix of the band’s late ‘70s reunion. “The band is kind of political in the respect of hiring guys. Dickey was in control of who was going to play guitar, Gregg [Allman] was in control of piano and the drummers were in control of who was going to be the bass player.”
Throughout the ‘80s, the Toler brothers toured and recorded with Gregg Allman’s solo bands. They appear on his comeback albums I’m No Angel (1986) and Just Before The Bullets Fly (1988). The Tolers also share some writing credits and appear in the MTV video staple “I’m No Angel.”
Dan Toler participated in a few Allman Brothers Band reunions in the mid-’80s. His final Allman Brothers Band show was the band’s one-off appearance at the Crackdown Against Crack concert at Madison Square Garden in 1986. When The Allman brothers Band reformed in 1989, Warren Haynes replaced Toler.
Toler worked on a variety of projects in the ’90s, including a fusion outfit and the Townsend Toler Band with his brother and John Townsend. He also performed as part of The Renegades of Southern Rock super group. Dangerous Dan joined Great Southern in 2002 and remained with Betts until 2008.
“His style has changed,” Betts told Jambands.com in 2002. “He kind of had some secret years there. He was kind of below radar for a while but obviously he had been working on his playing all the while. He has really developed to where he is really more compatible with me now than in the days when we were together. When we were together with Great Southern back in the ’70s and ’80s and in The Allman Brothers, we played a lot the same. Now we don’t play so much the same. He has really developed kind of what I would call a Western Swing style. It’s got a lot of chord movements. It’s not New York jazz it’s got more of a Western influence. We are having a lot of fun and we fit like a glove.”
In recent years, Toler has performed with Toler Tucci Band Band. They released their final album. Doc’s Hideaway this past August.
Frankie Toler passed away in 2011 after a prolonged illness that included two liver transplants. After Toler was diagnosed with “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” many of his longtime friends participated in a variety of benefits. Those notable friends included Allman Brothers Band guitarists Haynes and Betts.