Drummer David "Frankie" Toler, a former member of Dickey Betts & Great Southern, The Allman Brothers Band, the Gregg Allman Band and The Marshall Tucker Band, died Saturday (June 4) in Bradenton from complications from a liver transplant he underwent a few years ago. He was 59.
"Every musician in town and a lot around the country have lost a friend," says Sarasota Blues Festival producer Barbara Strauss.
Toler joined his brother, guitarist Dan Toler, in Dickey Betts & Great Southern in 1978 and played for two years before joining Dan in the Allman Brothers Band in 1980. They played alongside Gregg Allman, Betts and Butch Trucks for two years. Frankie and Dan then became members of the Gregg Allman Band, both playing in 1982-83 and 1986-89. That latter stint included work on Allman's gold-selling 1987 album, "I'm No Angel."
After two years with The Marshall Tucker Band (1992-94), Frankie teamed with Dan as The Toler Brothers in 1994 and, in 2002, they formed the short-lived band Toler.
“Frankie was absolutely the best drummer I have ever played with in my entire life," Dan Toler said through a publicist. "He was a part of my life for the past 60 years and to lose him now is just devastating. But I did have the opportunity to grow up with one of the best rock 'n' roll drummers in the world and it was truly a gift from God. I was blessed to have known him.”
Jamo Van de Bogert, a longtime drum tech for Gregg Allman, met Toler when he first moved to Sarasota in 1991.
"As a friend, he was a delightful person, very nice and respectful to everybody," Van de Bogert said in a phone interview while on the road with Allman. "As a drummer, he was innovative and inspirational. He was always coming up with something new, playing stuff no one would ever think of.
"These are some big shoes to fill, a very big hole. I miss him terribly. He was hurting for years and he's not hurting anymore ... He's in a special place now and we have to hold on to that."
(Below is a video clip of the Gregg Allman Band, including the Toler brothers, performing "Queen of Hearts" at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans on Aug. 18, 1982.)