World of Slick Music
Yes i’m back with another edition of world of slick music. Today i might be taking a little risk…maybe i’ll lose all my cred if i ever had one to lose or maybe i get some cred! Anyway today’s band is a group i’m sure you’d heard of weather you listen to them or not. The band is Toto and just the name itself immediately divides people into 2 groups, either you love them or hate them!
Picture above shows the band today, left to right: David Paich, Joseph Williams, Steve “Luke” Lukather, Steve Porcaro. Missing is bassist David Paich and drummer Keith Carlock.
Let’s go back to the beginning to the year of 1977 in Van Nuys in Greater Los Angeles, California. The members were all establsihed session players and had been working/touring with Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Sonny & Cher to name a few. Keyboardist David Paich, son of musician, session player/arranger Marty Paich, gained a lot of cred when having co-written many song of the Boz Scaggs album “Silk Degrees“. He had played on many sessions with drummer Jeff Porcaro, son of session percussionist Joe Porcaro, whom he had met during high school in Van Nuys where they formed the band Rural Still Life. David began to discuss seriously to start a band of their own. They brought in bassist David Hungate since they had played with him in Boz Scaggs backing band. Later they asked guitarist Steve “Luke” Lukather to join the group whom also had been playing in the same backing band as well as Jeff’s brother Steve also playing keyboards to join. Last to join was singer Bobby Kimball.
Picture above shows the band around 1977/78. Left to right: Bobby Kimball (vocals), Steve Porcaro (keyboards), David Hungate (bass), David Paich (keyboards, vocals), Steve “Luke” Lukather (guitar, vocals) and Jeff Porcaro (drums)
After signing with Columbia Records in 1977 Paich began composing what would become the eponymous debut album, Toto. A popular myth has it that at the first sessions in order to distinguish their own demos from others Jeff wrote the word Toto on them. In the early 80:s the band told the press that the group was named after a dog in the story The Wizard of Oz. Anyway when the first album was to be relased they still had no official name when David Hungate read the name on the tapes and explained that the word “Toto” in Latin translated to “all-encompassing.” Since the members all had played with so many different artists and genres they adopted the name as their own.
Picture above shows the front page of their debut album Toto.
The album was released and it become huge success containg 3 major hit singles, “I’ll Supply The Love”, “Georgy Porgy” (featuring singer Cheryl Lynn) and the most famous one “Hold The Line”.
Now i must share a little sidestory…swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer made an album in mid 70:s that somehow found its way to some Hollywood record company hot shot who contacted Janne asking if he wanted to record in Hollywood! Duh! Who wouldn’t want to do that Janne thought and so he went to L.A. and was asked what musicians he wanted. He insisted on one swede but was not sure what drummer he wanted and he knew no one there. He thought what kind of albums he had and what drummers they had and then he remebered Jeff Porcaro and asked for him! He got Jeff and while there they needed a bass player, no problem Jeff said my brother Mike plays the bass i’ll give him a call! It turned out they needed a keyboard player as well, Jeff again “Hey my second brother Steve plays keyboards i’ll give him a call to and by the way my dad plays the percussion i’ll have him coming over too!!
This is the album Janne made with the entire Porcaro family, “Earmeal”.
Then after the sessions Jeff asked Janne if he wanted come over to another studio and listen to some stuff Jeff recently had recorded. Not like Janne had anything better to do so he joined the guys to their studio. What Janne got to hear was an early instrumental outtake of a what later would become for the whole world as “Hold the Line”! Back in Sweden again, with “Hold the Line” still on his mind, he wrote a song called “Satellit” (Satellite) for a swedish singer, check out the video below and listen to the song and you’ll think of a very famous song never mind he sings in Swedish listen to the music…
Back to the main story and Toto again. Their debut album sold very well and got got a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist”. In 1979 they went out for their first american tour and when that tour was finished they began working on their second album called Hydra, see picture below. The line-up was still the same as on the previously however this album wasn’t quite the same commercial success and the first one still it sold gold. The released follwed by a world tour in 1980 from February to June.
Next album “Turn Back” was released in early 1981 and now they had changed their sound a little to more venue rock meaning more and heavier guitar riffs and less keyboards. Despite this the album wasn’t any bigger success.
Picture above showing album “Turn Back”.
When planning their 4th album they were on a lot of pressure from the record company since the 2 previously ones didn’t sold as much as expected. The album got the title “Toto IV” and to say the least a super major commercial success it sold triple platinum!! On this album we find their biggest hits “Africa” and “Rosanna”. During the sessions of “IV” David Hungate left and was replaced by a 3rd Porcaro brother, Mike. The album earned no less than 7 Grammy Awards including “Record of the Year” for “Rosanna”, “Album of the Year” Toto IV” and “Producer of the Year”. This is my favorite album and the band’s biggest commercial success.
The band after the Grammy Awards 1983 and notice that on the pic there’s both David Hungate and Mike Porcaro.
From the “Toto IV” sessions.
Also from the “Toto IV” sessions.
Even more from the “Toto Iv” sessions.
How the front page of “Toto IV” looks like.
In 1984 Bobby Kimball was fired from the band since had been facing drug relating charges in early 1983 due the charges were dissmissed in late May same year. New lead singer became a guy called Fergie Fredriksen but before him a guy galled Richard Page was asked. Next album “Isolation” didn’t sell triple platinum as the previously one did but it did actually sold gold mostly beacuse of the single Stranger in Town.
The band around 1985/1986
They did a tour afterwords and towards the end of it Fredriksen was let go. Lukather claimed the band was not meshing well with him plus it was difficult to record with him. Rumours has it that a swedish singer called Tommy Nilsson was the first choice to become the new lead singer. Some stories says he turned them down others they failed getting in touch with him. After an audition they picked Joseph Williams as new leadsinger.
The band with Joseph Williams in the late 80:s.
Williams was featured on two albums “Isolation” and “The Seventh One”. First one was released in October 1986 and 8 years later also in October the album sold gold. The album ends with a short instrumental song featuring a certain trumpet player called Miles Davis, yes it’s THE Miles Davis! After the tour followed by the album released Steve Porcaro annouced he quit touring with the band. In 1988 “The Seventh One” was released and it contained two hit singles “Stop Loving You” and “Pamela”. The album was their biggest success since “Toto IV”.
Then after the obligational tour Joseph Williams was let go and the first idea was to bring in Bobby Kimball again but instead the record company insisted they hire a south african guy called Jean Michel Byron who recorded 4 new songs for the “Past and Present” album, released in 1990. The band didn’t get along with Byron whose diva-like-behaviour and flamboyant stage presence caused friction during the tour. First he became background singer then fired completely. Now they had no like real lead singer so Luke was handling the most parts. In 1993 next album came called “Kingdome of Desire” and it turned out to be last album with the groove master himself Jeff Porcaro.
Jeff was found dead in August 1992 and he died from a heart attack at the age of 38 so sad so terribly sad…way way to early he left us. Long time no groove Jeff. They were just about to go on tour and now the only drummer the band ever had was all of a sudden dead. The band was thinking of giving it all up but Jeff’s family insisted they should continue to honor Jeff’s legacy. Replacer became englishman Simon Phillips since the band knew Jeff liked him plus the fact that Luke knew him since they booth had been touring with Santana and Jeff Beck.
In 1995 the first album recorded with Simon as the drummer was realeased and it was called “Tambu” and eventaully it sold 600 000 copies. As usual it was followed by a tour and now Simon suffered from a back problem so on the first gigs Gregg Bisonette was subbing. The line-up was pretty much the same thou some background singers came and went during the next tours. After 14 years off Bobby Kimball eventually was the leadsinger again. They contiuned to release albums but none were close at the success of the earlier ones. In 2008 keyboard player Greg Philliganes was asked to join the band permantly after subbing for Paich on and off for a while.
The band with Greg Philliganes far right.
In the same year Bobby Kimball left for the second time and what i heard in a radio interview here in Sweden he said he left beacuse “he doesn’t need anyone to tell him what to do, when to do it and how to do it!” Personally i didn’t understand why they brought him back in the first place. He used to have great voice but he hasn’t managed to take care and preserve it in my opinion. My own conspiracy theory is that when Bobby was singing again Luke get more time for his guitar solos…
Then in 2008 Luke wrote that it was official that it was no more Toto since Mike Porcaro had got diagnosed with ALS, David Paich had more or less retired and since Jeff was gone and Steve left in the late 80:s no one left…he felt that he couldn’t play “Hold the Line” with a straight face and Toto without no Porcaro brothers just wouldn’t be Toto at all! Before Mike quit touring he had sometimes been replaced by Lee Sklar.
The band with Lee Sklar, far left.
In 2010 Luke had changed his mind and kinda reunited Toto again for a mini tour to honor Mike and bring awareness about ALS. The line-up was Luke, Paich, Steve Porcaro, Simon Phillips, Joseph Williams plus special guest Nathan East on bass.
The years that followed a lot of things happend, in 2013 former lead singer Fergie Fredriksen passed away after suffering from cancer for a long time. The bass player Nathan East deciced to work on his solo projects, he released his first solo album last year. After almost 20 years in the band Simon decided to leave and pick up his solo career again. New bass player was David Hungate who after almost 30 years was back in business!! Then the new drummer became Keith Carlock who otherwise plays with Steely Dan. Thou Keith was busy touring with Steely Dan a guy called Shannon Forrest was subbing.
Drummer Shannon Forrest.
Now a fresh pic from the sessions of their soon to be realsed album “Toto XIV”. Left to right: Keith Carlock, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Steve Lukather, CJ Vanston (producer), Joseph Williams (fron). Missing: David Hungate.
Yes Toto is about to release a brand new studio album their first in 9 years. So they are still alive and kicking and if you’re lucky they might come to a venue near you…So finally the song…sorry(?) to tell you it’s the perhaps most famous one “Rosanna”! Yes i know you’ve probably heard it thousands of times on the radio but i don’t care i love it! Besides not my fault it’s their most slick song in my opinion….:D
So enjoy your listening!!
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