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have hit very close to home for Daniels. Tommy Crain, Daniels’ right hand man on guitar throughout most of the 1970s Golden Age, died last year in January of 2011. Crain wrote and sung one of the CDB’s most beloved songs, “Cumberland Mountain Number 9.” And then, boom. Taz DiGregorio, Daniels’ keyboardist for over 40 years, died in a car wreck while on the way to a CDB gig this past October. “I wouldn’t replace him for a while,” says Daniels, about DiGregorio. “When I got word about Taz, I was playing down close to Atlanta that night and my bus was already there and the band bus was on the way. They were running a couple of hours behind us. About 5:15 Atlanta time, my driver called me on my intercom and said my manager David, ‘wants you to call him.’ I knew immediately that something was wrong. He called me and he just came out and said, ’Charlie, Taz got killed this morning out on Interstate 40.’ If you ever have to tell anybody anything like that, it is better if you don’t try and soft-soak it, just come out with it because the worst is said. I didn’t know what to say. But I waited until the band bus got in and I got on and got all of the guys up and told them and we all headed back to Nashville.”


Daniels mourned Taz hard and then soon went back on tour. The show must go on. Yet, every now and then, a momentary thought of Taz will give him a jolt.


“During the time before we replaced him, something would come up in a song, his signa- ture part that he had done like his piece on ‘Saddle Tramp’ or a part that he had originated and played,” says Daniels. “And, it was during a drum solo when I was sitting behind stage and one of the guys started walking across and for a millisecond I thought it was Taz going across the stage. It didn’t last that long and I knew he was- n’t there, but there are little moments like that. We were together for 40 years. He was my buddy, my friend, for a long, long time. We saw each other through a lot of things.” But, life rolls on and Daniels finally replaced DiGregorio recently when he hired veteran key- boardist Shannon Wickline. The rest of the CBD includes 40-year veteran Charlie Hayward, Pat


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McDonald, Chris Wormer and Bruce Brown. “I love touring,” says Daniels. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I didn’t like it, I’d quit it. I love it. I love what I do. I love the people I do it with. I love the people I do it for. In so far as to being nice to fans is concerned, my life is a dream. Nothing aggravates me more than to see some artist mistreat a fan. These people have made my life a dream, and they are still making my life a dream. If people didn’t enjoy what I was doing, I wouldn’t be doing it any longer. I’d be sitting in my house playing scales or something. I have the greatest respect for anybody that spends their money to come and see us.” •


Mi


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