Dan Toler, who played guitar for the Allman Brothers, has died of complications from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. He was 65 years old.
Toler played with the Allman Brothers through the '70s and '80s, then moved on to play with the Gregg Allman Band, enjoying several years of success with both. But when the disease struck, his ability to play guitar and even speak were compromised. Former bandmate Chaz Trippy remembers visiting Toler at the height of his illness and describes how his friend motioned to his guitar, then to his heart.
“He was telling me it was breaking his heart that he couldn't play guitar,” Trippy said. “I didn't cry in front of him but I sure did when I got back into my car.”
Toler's illness was especially bad in the last two years; in 2011, he was confined to a wheelchair but still had use of his hands and could play guitar. Musician Bonnie Bramlett performed at the two-day Dan Toler ALS Support Benefit Concert Festival alongside him and remembers how strong he was through all the struggle.
“To see how Danny walked tall through that disease and play guitar so beautifully with his blue eyes burning that night. What a hero," she said. “He really showed people how to live, and how to die. He really made you check yourself. What a great man and a great musician.”