Gregg Allman Comments on Frankie Toler’s Passing

Mike Greenhaus on June 6, 2011

Former Allman Brothers Band drummer David “Frankie” Toler died on Saturday, June 4 in Bradenton, FL while in hospice care after a prolonged illness that included two liver transplants. He was 59.

The drummer and his older brother Dan Toler rose to fame as members of the classic 1970s version of Dickey Betts & Great Southern and David Toler appears on the group’s 1978 album Atlanta’s Burning Down. Both Dan Toler and Great Southern bassist David Goldflies joined the reformed Allman Brothers Band in the late ‘70s and David Toler ascended to the group’s ranks in 1980 after founding drummer Jaimoe was fired from the band. The Tolers remained with The Allman Brothers Band through their second break in 1982 and appear on the 1981 album Brothers of the Road. The album spawned the single “Straight From the Heart,” which was a radio hit at the time.

“Frankie was a big part of that era of the Brothers,” Gregg Allman told Relix shortly after Toler’s passing. “We had amazing times and we stayed great friends. I’m gonna miss him.”

After The Allman Brothers Band parted ways, Dan and David Toler continued to perform in Gregg Allman’s solo band. The brothers also continued to work with Allman in the studio and appear on his hit 1986 comeback album I’m No Angel. Though David Toler was not part of The Allman Brothers Band’s two official 1986 reunion shows, he did perform as part of an Allman Brothers Band family reunion tour that same year with his brother, Allman and Betts.

“Frankie was absolutely the best drummer I have ever played with in my entire life,” Dan Toler said in a statement. “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 and roll drummers in the world and it was truly a gift from God. I was blessed to have known him.”

The Allman Brothers Band cut ties with the Tolers after their 1989 reunion, but Dan Toler joined the reformed Great Southern in the early ‘00s. Meanwhile, David Toler continued to perform for large crowds as a member of The Marshall Tucker Band from 1992-1994. He also appears on the group’s 1993 release Walk Outside The Line and recorded a pair of albums with his brother as The Toler Brothers Band. More recently, he drummed with the supergroup the Renegades of Southern Rock as well as Dan Toler’s Toler/Townsend Band.

David Toler received two liver transplants in 2009. Around the time, musicians such as Dan Toler, the Outlaws, Gwen Fogts All-Star Band, John Townsend, Johnny Hiland Band and Michael Allman appeared at a benefit concert to help with his medical bills. Though he made a few appearances, the drummer’s declining health prevented him from touring in his final years.

He is the fifth member of The Allman Brothers Band to pass away, following founding guitarist Duane Allman, founding bassist Berry Oakley and two other former bassists, Lamar Williams and Allen Woody. The drummer is survived by his wife, Marsha and their daughter, Aja Kayle.