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reflects on his spectacular career in music.....
Bill Lakes and the Playboys, a local band, was one of my first bands in which I had the opportunity to grow as a young player. We played a lot of R&B and Blues, which was a great training ground for any guitar player. I also enjoyed playing country music, as long as they had a decent pedal steel player. I got pretty adept at picking out the chord formations and playing along in harmony.
The first National act that I joined was The Melting Pot Band on Capricorn Records in 1969 replacing the guitar player who had been injured. In late 1975 I was living in St. Petersburg, Florida and making three-dollars a night playing for the door. Two guys from the band I was playing with got a call from Dickey Betts and went to join him to start the Dickey Betts and Great Southern Band. They said he was looking for a guitar player and that they would try to get me an audition. I didn't feel I had a chance at an audition, let alone the gig. But a few days later, I was coming in from the pool and the phone was ringing from a booth just outside our apartment door, it kept ringing and ringing. Finally I'd had enough and answered it. A voice on the other end said, "I am looking for Dan Toler, this is Dickey Betts calling" and I said "yeah right" and hung up the phone. Fortunately, he called back. We talked for a while and during the conversation, he offered to fly me to Macon, Georgia for a look see.
I gave 'em my best stuff at the audition and it must've paid off because a few days later, I was part of the band. Over the next few years I played with Dickey and the band on two Great Southern records, "Dangerous" and "Atlanta's Burning Down". In 1979 the Allman Brothers Band was auditioning players in Macon at the Capricorn Records Picnic. I was asked to play. When I got home the next day Dickey called me and said they wanted to make me be an Allman Brother. I was with the Brothers for the next three Allman Brothers records. "Enlightened Rogues" in 1979, "Reach For The Sky" in 1980 and "Brothers Of The Road" the next year. In 1982, Gregg Allman was starting to sour on his contract with Arista Records. That January Gregg, myself and my brother Frankie left the Allman Brothers and formed the Gregg Allman Band. After five years of gigging, writing and recording the band was able to land a deal with Epic Records. In 1987 we recorded the album, "I'm No Angel" In 1988 we recorded the album "Just Before The Bullets Fly". The success of those two records propelled us through 1989 with "I'm no Angel" going gold. In 1990 when Gregg reformed the Allman Brothers Band, my brother and I decided to do our own project, The Toler Brothers Band. We toured extensively with acts like Black Oak Arkansas, Southern Rock All-Stars, Radio Tokyo and Molly Hatchet. In '95 Gregg approached me about playing with him again as Gregg Allman and Friends.
It was during this time I reconnected with Johnny Townsend. Johnny, my brother David (Frankie) Toler and I had been playing with the Gregg and Friends band in California. In no time Johnny and I hit it off and we started writing songs together. Even after the tour ended, I would send tapes to John and he would write lyrics to my music. Very soon we had composed a number of great tunes. I first met Johnny Townsend when I was working with Gregg's band, playing on the West Coast in the 1980s. Johnny would come sit-in with us and sing tunes like "Stormy Monday Blues" and he would absolutely mesmerize the audiences and get standing ovations. He just blew us all away. I think Johnny Townsend is a powerful vocalist with a great talent for lyrics and chord changes and I'm proud to stand on stage with him.
Writing music with Johnny and playing in a band together... it doesn't get any better than that for me. My Brother David and I had been doing some recording in Sarasota Florida at Telstar Studio with our friend and engineer Bud Snyder. We recorded four of five instrumental tracks and decided to send them to Johnny. The lyrics Johnny came up with were absolutely incredible and Johnny's vocals were exactly what we needed to make our band complete. We continued to work on the music on and off for several years. This project would eventually become our first CD, "The Toler/Townsend Band". I continued to play with other bands periodically like The Outlaws, Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Hiland, Nick Moroch, Lonnie Mack, Matt Guitar Murphy, Warren Haynes, Derrick Trucks, Jimmy Herring, Altar Bridge, Three Doors Down and Steve Gorman of The Black Crows, doing some touring and guest appearances.
In 2002 I was approached by Dicky Betts again to play with Great Southern. During this time we recorded an acoustic album called "The Collectors # 1". I stayed with Dickey until I got a call from my old friend George McCorkle from Marshal Tucker Band. George wanted to put together Southern Rock Legends band. We called that band "The Renegades". We were joined by Johnny Townsend and Jack Hall from Wet Willie. We toured the U.S. with acts like Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat and The Outlaws. It was a lot of fun but the whole time that band was together, all me and Johnny could talk about was the music we had been making as The Toler/Townsend Band.
When The Renegades went their separate ways, Johnny and I revived our music and started posting it in selected places online and within forty-eight hours we started getting interest from people in the European community. Reviews and magazine interviews followed. Later in March, 2009 we released our first CD "Toler/Townsend Band" on Garage Door Records.
Hope to see you down the road.....
When the chance to move to Los Angeles came about, Johnny made the most of it. His first L.A. success was with the group Feather whose hit "Friends" kept Johnny working coast-to-coast for quite a while. His experience and success as a singer and songwriter eventually led him to join with his now long time collaborator, Ed Sanford, with whom he formed The Sanford / Townsend Band. Together they scored the self-penned smash hit, "Smoke From A Distant Fire" and toured the world for a decade behind it's success.
During his long and prolific music career, Johnny has appeared on stage with a multitude of music icons; Jimi Hendrix, The Doobie Brothers, Loggins and Messina, Jimmy Buffett, Little Feat, Fleetwood Mac, The Little River Band and a host of Southern Rock artists like; The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Dickey Betts Great Southern, Sea Leavell and The Dixie Dreggs. During and after his days with the Sanford/Townsend Band, Johnny was an in demand studio vocalist and songwriter working with a background vocal trio of himself, Michael McDonald and Jackson Browne vocalist, Rosemary Butler. The trio's voices appeared on dozens of music albums during the 70s and 80s. Many of those were gold and platinum efforts. Johnny also co-wrote songs on gold and platinum albums with Loggins and Messina, Kenny Loggins first solo record, Gregg Allman's "Just Before The Bullets Fly" album, Larry Carlton's "Lightning Strikes Twice" album, and many others.
Johnny would later reunite with his long time friend Gregg Allman as part of Gregg Allman and Friends in the mid 90s. While playing with Gregg and Friends, Johnny was able to spend time with and get to know an old acquaintance from Great Southern, Danny Toler. They quickly became steadfast friends and song writing collaborators. Johnny and Dan spent most 2005 and 2006 working with several other Southern Rock legends The Renegades, whose members included the Marshall Tucker Band founder George McCorkle and Wet Willie bassist, Jack Hall. It was during their time with the Renegades that Johnny and Danny decided to get back to doing what they enjoyed the most and that was writing and performing their own music.
That eventually led to the recording of their first CD, titled "Toler-Townsend Band", just released in March, 2009 on Garage Door Records. Johnny and Danny are currently preparing for a U.S. tour in the late summer of 2011.
Catch their show. It's a guaranteed memorable experience.