When an ailing child, friend or fellow musician needs financial help, “Dangerous” Dan Toler is almost always the first to grab his guitar and lend a hand with a benefit concert.
Now Toler is the one in need of help.
The former member of Dickey Betts & Great Southern and the Allman Brothers Band recently went public with the news that he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Many of his musician friends are gathering Saturday afternoon (Aug. 13) and into the evening at Ace’s in Bradenton for a concert, with proceeds going toward paying Toler’s mounting medical bills. Tickets are $15.
The benefit show, which starts at 4 p.m., includes Greg Poulos & Friends (Mike Kach, Greg Voorhees, Frankie Lombardi), Tucci Band, Billy Rice (with Jack Elka, Bill Huff, Todd Cook, Gumbo Boogie’s Chaz Trippy), Matthew Facciolla Band, Mike “Louie the Lip” Logan and the Sean Chambers Band.
Toler, 63, also plans to sit in with his band (Trippy, Gary Guzzardo, Jeff Artabasy, Mike Hensley, Tony Tyler, Dani Jaye and Lauren Mitchell), and there will be a closing jam.
Trippy, a percussionist who played with Toler in the Gregg Allman Band in the 1980s, was in charge of lining up the acts.
His job was easy, he says, because everyone wants to show their support for Toler.
“It’s been real rough for him,” Trippy said. “He found out about having ALS two days before we buried Frankie,” referring to Toler’s younger brother.
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 June 4 in Bradenton from complications from a liver transplant he underwent a few years ago. He was 59.
“At the celebration after the funeral, Dan didn’t want us to tell anybody because it was Frankie’s day. Later on, I had a good talk with him; I said, ‘Dan, you need to tell people. People will start talking ... when rock musicians get ill, people always assume it’s because of drugs or alcohol.’ People know he doesn’t do those things, but I said ‘We have to come out with it.’
“Once he went public with it, now we can help him. He’s been there for everybody, and now everyone wants to be there for him.”
Like many musicians, Toler does not have health insurance. It took several costly doctor visits to determine he had symptoms of ALS, and he faces many expenses ahead.
Trippy says Toler hopes medications and other therapies will help slow the disease’s progression so he can spend more time with his wife, Debby, and to do what he loves the most: play guitar.
“He’s in the fighting stage now and I want to keep him there,” he said. “Ninety percent of it is a positive attitude, and it helps me too: the happier he is, the happier I am.”
Saturday’s benefit for Toler will be fun-filled, not somber, Trippy vows.
“Everybody loves Danny,” he said. “He was just named the third most underrated guitar player (according to Gibson Guitar’s website). He’s a great player but an even better human being. He’s done it all and done it well.
“I’m really sad it’s happened to him, but God is giving him strength.”
Trippy says they’re planning an even bigger benefit concert for Toler in October. “This one Saturday is just a teaser,” he said.
This week, a website was created for Toler: HelpDanToler.com. It includes a bio of his career, plus links to information about ALS and how to donate to the Toler fund.