Charlie Daniels Original Joel 'Taz' DiGregorio Dies In Crash

Keyboardist who had played with the band for more than 40 years and co-wrote "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," was driving to meet the tour bus.

Joel “Taz” DiGregorio, the original keyboardist for the Charlie Daniels Band who had played with the group for more than 40 years, died Wednesday in an auto accident. He was 67.

DiGregorio was killed in a single-car crash in Cheatham County, Tenn. He was driving to meet the band’s tour bus, which was headed to a concert set for Wednesday night at the Cumming Country Fair in Cumming, Ga. The group canceled that show and Friday’s gig in Waterbury, Conn.

“I am in shock now, Taz was one of my best friends,” bandleader Charlie Daniels said. “We traveled many miles together and shared so many nights on the road. We’re going to miss you, buddy. You were one of a kind and will never be forgotten.”

DiGregorio played on dozens of CDB albums, including seven that went platinum. He also co-wrote many of the band’s songs, including the band’s biggest hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. The song netted DiGregorio and his bandmates a Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group.

"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," Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow said. "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 fiddle-fronted act also scored a top 10 with pop hit with “Uneasy Rider” in 1973. It later charted with such songs as “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” “Long Haired Country Boy,” “Still in Saigon,” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and “In America.” The compilation album A Decade of Hits, released in 1983, has sold more than 4 million copies.