Charlie Daniels Band Pays Tribute to Late Former Band Member on His Birthday

by Suzanne Halliburton

The Charlie Daniels Band remembered their talented friend and keyboardist Joel “Taz” DiGregorio, Friday, on what would’ve been his 77th birthday.

DeGregorio died almost a decade ago. But his impact on the band still was felt long after his death. Every time Charlie Daniels picked up a fiddle and the band struck up “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” fans could thank DiGregorio.

The official Charlie Daniels Band social media account posted a tribute on Instagram. The caption said: “ON THIS DAY in 1944, longtime CDB keyboard player William Joel “Taz” DiGregorio was born. – TeamCDB/BW #HappyBirthday #RestinPeace #RIP.”

Who Was Taz DiGregorio? And What’s His Charlie Daniels Band Background?

Joel “Taz” DiGregorio went way back with the late Charlie Daniels. The two played music together for four decades. Daniels described him as one of his best friends.

They met in the 1960s when DiGregorio was playing at a club called LaFlame near Orlando, Fla. Daniels played the club. The two had lunch together. And Daniels asked him to join his band, so long as he cut his hair.

DiGregorio played the keyboard and he also helped write the songs. He helped craft “Devil Went Down To Georgia,” the band’s biggest hit. That was back in 1979. The group even won a Grammy for the song that reached No. 3 on the charts. DiGregorio also co-wrote ‘The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and ‘Simple Man.”

DiGregorio Was On His Way To Work When He Suffered Fatal Injuries

DiGregorio’s death stunned the band in 2011. He was on his way to the band’s bus. They were all about to head out to Georgia, then on to Connecticut. But DiGregorio crashed his car outside of Nashville. He died of his injuries.

Charlie Daniels canceled the shows and issued a statement about the band’s long-time keyboardist. “I am in shock now. Taz was one of my best friends. The Charlie Daniels Band family has lost a great friend and musician. We traveled many miles together and shared so many nights on the road.”

Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow acknowledged DiGregorio’s death and impact on music. He said: “Taz DiGregorio greatly influenced Southern rock and country music with a career that spanned almost half a century as an integral member of the Charlie Daniels Band. A self-taught keyboardist with deep bluesy roots, DiGregorio used his natural gift for creating melodies to co-write many of the band’s songs.”

The year 2011 was horrible for the Charlie Daniels Band. Nine months before DiGregorio’s car wreck, Tommy Crain, the band’s former guitar player, died. He was only 59.

Of course, 2020 also was a sad year. Charlie Daniels died of a stroke on July 6. He was 83. Read how the country music world turned out for his funeral and gave him a sendoff befitting his dynamic career.