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Toto bio


Toto in 2006
Toto in Germany 2006 - photo by Sean Gallup / Getty Images

From the top:

The original members of Toto first joined forced in Los Angeles in 1976. They were highly regarded session musicians who, individually, had worked with artists like Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, Seals & Crofts, and Sonny & Cher.

Original members:

David Paich (keyboards)
Jeff Porcaro (drums)
Steve Porcaro (keyboards)
Steve Lukather (guitar)
David Hungate (bass)
Bobby Kimball (lead vocals)

Paich and Jeff Porcaro (son of well known jazz drummer, Joe Porcaro) got the idea to form a band, and began seeking out fellow session musicians to join. They scored a record deal and began recording their first album in 1977.

The name game:

There are at least three versions of the story behind the band's name. At first, band members said the name came from Dorothy's "little dog" in The Wizard of Oz. Then there was a rumor that the name was inspired by Bobby Kimball's supposedly real (it wasn't) last name, Toteaux. Finally, David Hungate (who had started the Toteaux rumor) said that the name was based on the translation of the Latin word, toto: all-encompassing (which, he said, described the band's various musical styles.)

What is known for sure is that after recording their first album, the band still didn't have a name, and during the recording sessions, Jeff Porcaro had written "Toto" on their tapes, as a way to distinguish them from tapes being recorded by other bands in the same studio, and the name stuck.

The music:

From the time their debut album, Toto was released in 1978, they were an immediate hit with fans, if not with critics, who viewed the band's incorporation of elements of jazz, psychedelia, hard rock and soul as a negative because, they maintained, it kept the band from having a distinctive sound.

They followed with Hydra in 1979 and Turn Back in 1981, both of which performed progressively less successfully than the debut album. They finally broke through with their 1982 release, Toto IV which included future Toto standards "Africa," "Rosanna," "I Won't Hold You Back" and "Make Believe." Toto IV won a total of three Grammy Awards, including Record of Year ("Rosanna") and Album of the Year.

Their next three albums (see Toto discography) became progressively less successful in the U.S. and more successful in Europe, especially France, Netherlands and Sweden. By 1995, Toto albums and singles were failing to chart at all in their home country, even as they became even more successful overseas.

Band of brothers
Few rock bands have been so strongly influenced for so long a time by members of the same family as Toto, which is inexorably linked with the Porcaro family.

When band co-founders David Paich (keyboardist) and Jeff Porcaro (drums) began putting Toto together in 1976, one of their first recruits was Porcaro's brother, Steve, who, like Paich, was a keyboardist and a songwriter. In 1982, when the band's original bassist, David Hungate left to resume his career as a session player, the third Porcaro brother, Mike was named to replace him. For the next four years, all three Porcaros were in the Toto lineup at the same time.

Steve Porcaro left the band in 1986 to concentrating on writing songs and scoring movies and TV shows. He continued working with Toto off and on, usually behind the scenes, and returned to the lineup in 2010. Jeff Porcaro had a fatal heart attack in 1992, at age 38. Mike Porcaro left in 2007 when he became unable to perform due to the affects of ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease.)

Toto voices
Five people have served time as Toto lead vocalist, including two who have left and returned.

• Bobby Kimball - 1977-84, 1998-2008
Fergie Frederikson - 1984-85
Joseph Williams - 1986-88, 2010-present
Jean-Michel Byron - 1988-90
• Steve Lukather - 1991-1998

Toto today
In 2008, Lukather declared that Toto's long run was over, and that he would be concentrating on a solo career. In an About.com Classic Rock interview, Lukather said, "The old band was good to me, and we had a good run at it, you know what I mean? But when it ceases to be the people who actually started the band – I'm the only one left – it's lost its little magical thing that it used to have when we were in high school. It's like when you stay too long at the party. I didn't want to go down in flames, I'd rather go out on a real high. Our bond is stronger than just being a corporation that makes money. I think everybody felt like it was time."

By 2010, Lukather was still doing solo work, but he had changed his mind about Toto's future, and that band reunited, initially for a short benefit tour for their ailing ex-bandmate Mike Porcaro, then for full tours in 2011 and 2012. The current lineup includes original members Paitch, Lukather and Steve Porcaro, veteran members Joe Williams and Simon Phillips, and Nathan East subbing for original bassist Mike Porcaro. Recent tours have also featured backup vocals by Jenny Douglas-McRae (who has worked with the band off and on since 1990) and Mabvuto Carpenter.

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