- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2011

NASHVILLE, TENN. (AP) - Country star Charlie Daniels says his longtime keyboardist and co-writer of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” had his own musical personality

Joel “Taz” DiGregorio, 67, was killed Wednesday night in a single-car accident on Interstate 40 west of Nashville while en route to Georgia for a Charlie Daniels Band concert that has since been canceled. He was alone when his car flipped going around a curve, Daniels said.

“He was an intricate part of our sound for 40 years,” Daniels said Thursday in a telephone interview. “If you listened to our records, you could hear Taz all over them. He had a riff in `The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ which was his idea.”

Wearing an ever present cowboy hat and always to Daniels’ right on stage, DiGregorio was a fixture of the band’s rocking persona.

“He just fit in with our music for 40 years. It won’t be easy without him,” Daniels said.

The Charlie Daniels Band has canceled the concert Thursday in Cumming, Ga., and a show in Waterbury, Conn., on Saturday.

Daniels said he will resume performing next Friday and Saturday in Oklahoma with just five members.

“I won’t replace him now,” Daniels said. “I can’t come to grips with replacing him right now, but I will.”

DiGregorio is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

“He just had a unique way,” Daniels said. “We’ll live with this and deal with it.”

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