SARASOTA, Fla., Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dan Toler has died of Lou Gehrig's disease at his home in Sarasota, Fla., his website said. He was 64.
Toler, who had not been able to speak or play guitar in recent months, died in his sleep early Monday, Chaz Trippy, Toler's longtime friend and musical collaborator, confirmed to The Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Fla.
"His ability to make people laugh and feel good and happy was amazing," Trippy told the newspaper. "That smile of his is just a force of life and, God, how he loved playing that guitar."
Trippy said he talked to Toler about "the old days" when he visited him last Friday.
"He couldn't speak but he squeezed my hand," Trippy said.
"A Celebration of Life for Dan Toler" is to be held March 9 in Sarasota, the Herald-Tribune said.
Known as "Dangerous Dan," the musician played with his brother, the late drummer David "Frankie" Toler, in several famous groups, including Dickey Betts & Great Southern. The siblings also performed together with Betts and Gregg Allman in The Allman Brothers Band in the 1970s and '80s, then in The Greg Allman Band, and on their own as The Toler Bros. in the 1990s.
Dan Toler rejoined Betts for several years in the band Great Southern around 2002, then performed with John Townsend as part of the Townsend/Toler Band. He also was a member of The Renegades of Southern Rock and the Toler Tucci Band, the Herald-Tribune said.
Julianne and Derek Hough developing dance drama for Starz
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Feb. 27 (UPI) -- "Dancing with the Stars" professionals Julianne and Derek Hough are developing a drama about a ballroom dance competition in Blackpool, England, Starz said.
The brother-sister team will executive produce and serve as head choreographers for the series, which is set in the world of international competitive ballroom dancing and "will explore the dancer's obsession with perfection and the darker side of the glamorous world of ballroom dance," the cable television network said.
"The world of ballroom dance has captivated millions of people around the world and there are no more recognizable superstars in this arena than Julianne and Derek," Carmi Zlotnik, managing director of Starz, said in a statement Tuesday.
"Their experiences growing up in this highly competitive world are riveting and also shocking. There is much more to uncover than what we see on the dance floor."
"Derek and I are thrilled to be working with Starz. We feel that their passion and the style and quality of their programming provide the perfect environment to capture the true essence of this world that Derek and I know so well and means so much to us," Julianne Hough said.
"I cannot wait to give audiences a fictionalized view of the world that I experienced growing up," said Derek Hough. "Viewers are going to see a twisted, sexy, funny, dark and passionate side of the drama and politics in the world of ballroom dance that delves deeper than spray tans and sequins."
No casting or air date have been announced yet.
Derek Hough will appear on Season 16 of "Dancing with the Stars" as singer Kelli Pickler's partner.
Julianne Hough can now be seen on the big-screen in "Safe Haven."
'Downton Abbey' to feature first black character in Season 4
LONDON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A black actor is being sought to play a musician in Season 4 of the 1920s-set British costume drama, "Downton Abbey," The Sun reported.
Jack Ross, the show's first black character, will be introduced as part of a storyline about race relations in the time period.
Casting notes sent out to actors' agents this month described Ross as: "Male, 25-30. A musician [singer] at an exclusive club in the 20s. He's black and very handsome. A real man [not a boy] with charm and charisma," The Sun said.
The right actor should "ideally be able to sing brilliantly."
"Overall, he should be a very attractive man with a certain wow factor," the notes said.
Created by writer-producer Julian Fellowes, the award-winning "Downton Abbey" stars Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton, Michelle Dockery, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter and Hugh Bonneville. Production on Season 4 is to start March 23.
Mumford & Sons' 'Babel' tops U.S. album chart for fifth week
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Mumford & Sons' "Babel" is No. 1 on the U.S. album chart for a fifth non-consecutive week, Billboard.com reported Wednesday.
Coming in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 is Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox," followed by Josh Groban's "All That Echoes" at No. 3, the "Now 45" compilation CD at No. 4 and The Lumineers' self-titled album at No. 5.
Rounding out the top tier are Alabama Shakes' "Boys & Girls" at No. 6, the "2013 Grammy Nominees" album at No. 7, fun.'s "Some Nights" at No. 8, Rihanna's "Unapologetic" at No. 9 and Taylor Swift's "Red" at No. 10.