Obituary: Ex-Toto member Fergie Frederiksen rocked area clubs

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 22, 2014 - 6:36 PM

When his sister came to visit rock singer Fergie Frederiksen in Mound, she called him “Denny,” and everyone in the room looked at her like she was crazy.

She learned to toe the name line around her younger brother, who was the second lead singer of the Grammy-winning, hit-making Los Angeles band Toto. He recorded only one album, “Isolation,” with the group, in 1984, and stayed with Toto for just two years. But he sang with many rock bands including Trillion, LeRoux and World Classic Rockers.

Dennis “Fergie” Frederiksen had lived in the Twin Cities since moving here with his then-wife, a Minnesota native, in the 1990s. He died Saturday of liver cancer at 62.

“He loved music, he loved golf, he loved his family and his kids, and he loved the Lord first of all,” said his sister, Charlene Wilkerson, of Kentwood, Mich.

Frederiksen last performed in the summer of 2013 in Sweden and Japan with Legends: Voices of Rock, classic-rock singers including Bobby Kimball of Toto and Bill Champlin of Chicago.

On Dec. 15, friend Mike Woodley helped put together a celebration at the Bayview Event Center in Excelsior. “There was a turn-away crowd,” said Woodley, a veteran Twin Cities broadcaster, “and people flew in on their own dime — Bobby Kimball, Jimi Jamison of Survivor, Alex Ligertwood of Santana, Fran Cosmo of Boston.

“Isn’t that cool to do something while you’re still around? He was still strong enough to talk.”

Woodley figures that Frederiksen was “lucky because he fixed everything that was wrong in his life.” That included taking his ex-wife on a date to the State Fair in 2012 to see Loverboy’s Mike Reno perform.

Frederiksen got his nickname in grade school in Grand Rapids, Mich., his sister said. “The kids thought his name was Ferguson, so they named him Fergie,” she said.

It stuck. As did his love of music. He began rocking as a teenager in Grand Rapids. In 1975, he moved to Chicago and worked in a series of bands including Trillion. After relocating to Los Angeles in 1980, he released a solo album under the pseudonym David London, sang backup vocals for Survivor on “Eye of the Tiger” and was invited to replace Kimball, the voice of such hits as “Rosanna” and “Africa,” who was fired from Toto after a drug arrest.

Frederiksen’s stint with Toto included “Isolation,” which went gold and yielded the modest hit “Stranger in Town.”

After being let go by the band, he joined his father in the restaurant business, Woodley said.

Music beckoned again, however, and Frederiksen made a solo album, “Equilibrium,” in 1999 and toured with the World Classic Rockers, including Nick St. Nicholas of Steppenwolf and Aynsley Dunbar of Jefferson Starship.

In 2007, Frederiksen sat in with Toto at the now-defunct Trocaderos in Minneapolis. “When they called him onstage to sing ‘Africa’ with Bobby Kimball, that was a big deal,” Woodley said. “That took care of his Toto [issues]. That was his redemption.”

Frederiksen, who occasionally performed with his own eponymous band in the Twin Cities, recently released solo CDs, “Happiness Is the Road” (2011) and “Any Given Moment” (2013).

He suffered from hepatitis C and presented a few fundraisers to raise awareness.

“Four years ago April, they gave him less than six months,” his sister said. “He fought right till the end.”

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