Upon its release in September, 1977, TOTO spawned the single hit, “Hold the Line,” which rapidly climbed the charts. Followed by two more hit singles, “I’ll Supply the Love” and “Georgy Porgy,” the record set new standards in pop and rock music at the time and earned them a Grammy nomination in 1978 for Best New Artist.
Lukather and Kimball recall that TOTO’s opening year passed like a whirlwind, but they still remember the first time they heard themselves on the radio. “I was asleep,” says Kimball. “I had set my alarm for early because we were going to do some promo in the studio that day, and when it came on, there was ‘Hold the Line.’ I phoned Paich and screamed into the phone, and he was screaming and stumbling around in the dark trying to turn his radio on.” Lukather recalls, “I remember one of the guys called me. I actually sat there in my first house by myself, a little tear in my eye. I mean, wow. We were on the radio in L.A. It was a great feeling.”
In 1979, TOTO released their second record, Hydra. A bit of a harder edge than TOTO’s first record, Hydra features one of TOTO’s biggest hits, “99”, a song inspired by the George Lucas movie THX-1138 about a society where people were given numbers instead of names. In point of fact, music video of “99” features the band in an all-white room dressed in white, a set piece designed around Lucas’ visionary film.
Following the release of Hydra, TOTO turned their musical talents in a new direction, and in 1981 their third record, Turn Back, was released. The band had recorded a much harder-edged album than either of the previous two releases, but unfortunately it did not achieve the radio-play the band wanted.
The beginning of 1982 marked the start of the most successful era of TOTO’s career. After an extensive schedule in the studio, TOTO released the iconic TOTO IV. The record immediately exploded onto the charts, producing the smash hits “Africa” and “Rosanna” and rocketing the band to instant international stardom. TOTO IV hit platinum and yielded 5 singles.
Just prior to the TOTO IV world tour, Mike Porcaro, replaced David Hungate, who had just become a father and felt his responsibilities to his family prevented him from participating in the immense world tour that followed IV’s release. Like his brothers, Mike was an accomplished session musician, and, having played with the band members in high school, Mike was a perfect replacement for Hungate. Thus the band’s first-class playing and fun-loving dynamic continued despite the personnel change.
Despite the world-wide commercial success of TOTO IV, the members of the band continued their session work, collaborating with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson on the international hit Thriller and other artists such as Don Henley, Van Halen, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Paul McCartney, Chicago, and Eric Clapton. During the time immediately following the TOTO IV Tour, David Paich brought in the entire band to work together on a movie score for David Lynch’s Dune, based on the best-selling science fiction novel that has since become a cult phenomenon.
During pre-production of Toto’s fifth record, Bobby Kimball left the band and was replaced by Le Roux’s Fergie Frederiksen. In the summer of ’84, TOTO recorded the boxing theme for the 1984 Olympic Games, entitled “Moodido – The Match.” Then in late 1984, TOTO released Isolation, cleverly titled to explain the band’s 2 and a half year absence since the release of TOTO IV. Isolation featured two hit singles, “Stranger In Town” and “Holyanna,” and the record’s harder rock edge, immediately appealing to the fans, became a fast favorite.
In 1986, the band released their sixth record, Fahrenheit, along with the hit single “I’ll Be Over You.” Prior to the Fahrenheit World Tour, Steve Lukather traveled to Japan, where he played with legendary guitarists Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana. While in Japan, Lukather met Simon Phillips, a seasoned drummer from the UK who had played with such artists as The Who, Mike Oldfield, and Mick Jagger.
Upon Lukather’s return the United States, TOTO left for the Fahrenheit World Tour, which lasted until the Spring of 1987. At that time, Steve Porcaro left the band to pursue a career in film scoring, but he continued to work with the band in the studio. TOTO’s next studio effort, appropriately titled The Seventh One, received international acclaim and scored two hit singles in Europe: “Pamela” and “Stop Loving You.” With the new record’s release in 1988, TOTO embarked on yet another world tour. At the close of The Seventh One Tour, Joseph Williams left the band to pursue a solo career.
1989 saw a brief break from the TOTO scene for the band members to pursue other projects, but in 1990, TOTO came together in the studio once again to plan a greatest hits compilation entitled Past to Present. For a brief period, former lead vocalist Bobby Kimball returned to the band to record some new tracks to accompany the hits, but the record company forced the band to use the unknown Jean-Michel Byron as lead singer, and Kimball’s recordings with the band were shelved. Four new songs featuring Byron were included on the Past to Present record, and the first single, “Out of Love” became a hit in Europe, while the album went Platinum in most countries. Following the Past to Present Tour, Jean-Michel Byron left the band.
When Jeff passed away, TOTO found themselves confronted with whether or not the band should go on. With the Kingdom of Desire Tour just around the corner and their resolve shaken, TOTO decided to go ahead with the tour because they felt that Jeff would have wanted them to. In selecting a drummer to replace Jeff, the band decided that they wanted someone who would put their own signature to the TOTO sound rather than try to copy Jeff. Steve Lukather suggested Simon Phillips, whom he had remembered from the Beck / Santana Tour. Phillips bravely accepted the task of filling in for Jeff on the Kingdom of Desire Tour.
Despite the fact that the tour would go on, TOTO were still unsure what the future of the band would be. The Kingdom of Desire Tour became a very special tour for the band and the fans, as many people felt that it might be TOTO’s last tour together. TOTO performed more than three hours each night, playing songs from each and every album and adding a tribute of “With A Little Help From My Friends” dedicated to Jeff. The magic of the band’s performances during that tour captured the hearts of the fans, and at the end of the tour, the band decided to stay together and move forward, asking Simon Phillips to join them permanently.
In December of 1992 after the tour, TOTO returned to Los Angeles for a Tribute to Jeff show. Joined by legendary musicians Donald Fagan, Michael McDonald, James Newton Howard, Don Henley, Eddie Van Halen, David Crosby, Denny Dias, and George Harrison, the band performed all night, adding to the extensive Kingdom of Desire Tour set list from their own discography as well as hits from the other guest artists, many on which Jeff himself had played during his session work. Steve Porcaro and percussionist Lenny Castro joined the band on stage as well, and to this day, the Tribute to Jeff remains a milestone on TOTO’s long list of special performances.
1994 found the band briefly reunited to take part in the Night of the Proms tour in Europe, a massive production featuring a full choir and orchestra that fuses classical music and pop / rock. The band played before audiences of over a hundred thousand in Belgium, Holland, and Germany. At the close of the Proms, the band once again continued work on outside projects.
In 1997 the band celebrated its 20th Anniversary. In the spirit of the anniversary, David Paich and Steve Lukather started searching through old tapes and recordings for the release of a very special new record, TOTO XX. In late 1997, the band toured South Africa for the first time, eventually joining a South African choir and drum team to perform “Africa” in Johannesburg.
In 1998, Lukather and Paich put the finishing touches on TOTO XX, including the fabled “Africa” track from Johannesburg, and it was released in May, after which it rapidly climbed the European and Japanese charts. While a full tour was never planned, TOTO teamed up with former members Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams, and Steve Porcaro for several special release parties in Europe, performing all of their old hits as a single team. At the close of the TOTO XX release parties, Bobby Kimball rejoined the band as lead vocalist, and TOTO began recording their first new studio record in almost five years.
In the summer of 1999, TOTO started mixing a new live album, Livefields, showcasing the Mindfields Tour and Kimball’s return to the microphone. The live record was released just prior to TOTO’s second leg of the Mindfields Tour.
The arrival of the Millennium opened with TOTO finishing their tour and several of the band’s members working on solo projects. Steve Lukather won a Grammy with guitar-legend Larry Carlton, and the band found themselves sharing the stage with Eric Clapton in Mexico in October 2001.
In January 2003, TOTO continued the anniversary tour and recorded a live DVD in Amsterdam. Mixed by Simon Phillips in April of that year, the Live in Amsterdam DVD was an immediate hit among the fans. Accompanied by a CD of the show, the DVD sold very well, hitting the Hot 100 on Amazon.com. After the release of their DVD, TOTO returned to the Night of the Proms in Europe from October until December and played in front of over 600,000 fans.
2005 marked another monumental change in the TOTO lineup. David Paich, semi-retired from touring to stay home with a sick family member, was replaced by Greg Phillinganes on tour. Later that year, Greg permanently joined the band, thereby returning the band roster to six members with two keyboardists. A world-class player whose credits included Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and Eric Clapton, Greg has brought a new energy to the band on stage as well as in the studio, where the band has just finished recording their seventeenth release, Falling In Between. Featuring both Joseph Williams and Steve Porcaro, Falling In Between is yet another amazing example of TOTO's commitment to professionalism and perfectionism. Since its recent release, the band have embarked upon yet another extensive World Tour, bringing music to all of its long-devoted fans as well as to a younger, new generation of music lovers.
...to be continued
written by Petra Regemann & Steve McVey
authorized by Steve Lukather