Brett Tuggle, a keyboardist best known for spending 20 years with Fleetwood Mac, touring with Rick Springfield and being a founding member of the David Lee Roth Band, died on June 19 at the age of 70.
The musician, who co-wrote the song “Just Like Paradise” for Roth, also played with artists like Belinda Carlisle, Tommy Shaw, Jimmy Page, John Kay, Steppenwolf, and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. His death on Father’s Day of complications related to cancer was announced by his son, Matt.
“He was loved by his family so much,” Matt told Rolling Stone. “His family was with him throughout the entire time of his illness. He was a lovely father. He gave me music in my life.”
Tuggle was born in Denver, learning piano and guitar as a child. In 1981, he played with Kay and Steppenwolf before meeting Springfield and joining his group in 1982 post “Jesse’s Girl.” Then, from 1986-1994, he helped found and became an integral part of David Lee Roth’s post-Van Halen band.
His gig with Fleetwood Mac lasted from 1997-2017 during the band’s reunion era, but Rolling Stone reports that he got caught up in band politics between Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. The result: he was dismissed from the band, and played with Buckingham’s solo tour until he got sick in 2021.
Many of those who know him have shared tributes on social media. Rick Springfield posted some images of the two together, saying, “Our sweet Brett Tuggle made it home tonight. God bless his beautiful spirit.”
— Rick Springfield (@rickspringfield) June 20, 2022
Musician Steve Vai posted an eight-tweet-long tribute to his friend “Tugg,” saying, “Brett was one of the finest people I have ever met. He was the consummate musician, singer, keyboard player, guitar player that was the glue that held together so many of the music biz’s most prominent artists and bands. Besides his immense talent, he was the most centered, funniest, friendliest and considerate person you could ever want to know.”
I was fortunate enough to tour with Brett Tuggle during the David Lee Roth years. Myself, Billy Sheehan, Greg and Matt Bissonette and Brett were brothers of the highest order and to say we had fun together would be like saying the sun is hot. 1/8 pic.twitter.com/kxp7906LIH
— Steve Vai (@stevevai) June 21, 2022
Bassist Billy Sheehan, who was also in Roth’s band, posted that the keyboardist was “loved by everyone that ever met him, and gifted with supreme talent.”
Brett Tuggle—truly the ”secret weapon” of the Eat ‘Em & Smile band and tour. Loved by everyone that ever met him, and gifted with supreme talent—-Rest in Peace. We will never forget you. ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/mhzC90sD79
— Billy Sheehan (@BillyonBass) June 20, 2022
Another prominent musician Tuggle toured with, David Coverdale, called him “a delightful man” and said his death marked “a sad day, indeed.”
sad news…Just heard…A delightful man who worked with Coverdale Page then Restless Heart…My love & respect to his family, friends & fans…A Sad day, indeed…🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
Brett Tuggle, Fleetwood Mac and David Lee Roth Keyboardist, Dead at 70 – Rolling Stone https://t.co/mLTj2TPHu3
— David Coverdale (@davidcoverdale) June 20, 2022
In this YouTube video from Yamaha Entertainment Group from around 2015, Tuggle explains his career and the Yamaha product he uses:
Tuggle is survived by his two children, Matt and Michelle. Rest in peace, rock star.