Years: 1977 – 2008; 2010 – present
Styles: Classic Rock, Hard Rock, Pop Rock, Soft Rock
Jeff Porcaro - Drums, Percussion (in band: 1977 - 1992)
David Paich - Backing vocals, Keyboards, Lead vocals, Loops, Moog sequencer bass , Organ, Piano, Slide guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals, Wurlitzer Organ (in band: 1977 - 2008; 2010 - present)
David Hungate - Acoustic guitar , Bass Guitar, Guitar (in band: 1977 - 1983; 1999 - 2009; 2014 – 2015)
Bobby Kimball - Backing vocals, Lead vocals, Loops, Vocals (in band: 1977 - 1984; 1997 - 2008)
Steve Porcaro - Backing vocals, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Vocals (in band: 1977 - 1989; 2010 - present)
Steve Lukather - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar, Guitar, Keyboards, Lead vocals, Loops, Resonator Guitar [Dobro], Vocals (in band: 1977 - 2008; 2010 - present)
Mike Porcaro - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar, Cello, Loops (in band: 1983 - 2008)
Fergie Frederiksen - Vocals (in band: 1984 - 1986)
Joseph Williams - Backing vocals, Keyboards, Lead vocals, Vocals (in band: 1986 - 1989; 2010 - present)
Jean-Michel Byron - Vocals (in band: 1990)
Simon Phillips - Backing vocals, Drums, Keyboards, Loops, Percussion, Tabla, Tambourine (in band: 1992 - 2008; 2010 - 2014)
Greg Phillinganes - Keyboards, Vocals (in band: 2005 - 2008)
Keith Carlock - Backing vocals, Drums (in band: 2014)
Shannon Forrest - Drums (in band: 2015 - present)
Toto is an American rock band formed in 1976 in Los Angeles. Toto is known for a musical style that combines elements of pop, rock, soul, funk, progressive rock, hard rock, R&B, blues, and jazz.
David Paich and Jeff Porcaro had played together as session musicians on several albums and decided to form a band. David Hungate, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro and Bobby Kimball were recruited before the first album release. The band enjoyed great commercial success in the late 1970s and 1980s, beginning with the band's eponymous debut released in 1978. With the release of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Toto IV (1982), Toto became one of the best-selling music groups of their era.
It's as easy to see why radio listeners loved Toto as it is to see why critics hated them. Toto's rock-studio chops allowed them to play any current pop style at the drop of a hi-hat: one minute prog rock, the next hard rock, the next funky R&B. It all sounded great, but it also implied that music-making took craft rather than inspiration and that the musical barriers critics like to erect were arbitrary. Then, too, Toto's timing couldn't have been much worse. They rode in during the middle of punk/new wave with its D.I.Y. aesthetic, and their sheer competence was an affront.
Of course, there's always been an alternate history of popular music not available to rock critics (it's written in record stores and concert halls and on the radio), and in that story, Toto was a smash. Singles like "I'll Supply the Love" and "Georgy Porgy" made the charts, and "Hold the Line" hit the Top Ten and went gold. The members of Toto had already influenced the course of '70s popular music by playing on half the albums that came out of L.A. All they were doing with this album was going public.
The band garnered international acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Shortly thereafter, in early 1979, Toto embarked on their first American tour in support of the debut album. For the tour, Toto brought along two additional musicians, Tom Kelly (guitar, backup vocals) and Lenny Castro (percussion), to increase the depth of the sound, and continued to bring additional touring musicians for all subsequent tours.
If Toto's musical advantage was that, since its members continued to play on many of the successful records made in L.A., its own music was popular almost by definition, its disadvantage was that it made little attempt to seek an individual musical signature -- a particular style, say, or a distinctive singer (Bobby Kimball was not it) who could make its records immediately identifiable. "Hold the Line" had been a big hit, but who did it? Boston? Foreigner? As a result, Toto was less well positioned than most to come off a big debut album with the follow-up, and Hydra was unusually dependent on its leadoff single, "99." Maybe it was a tribute to the female lead on the old Get Smart TV show, but many listeners didn't get a song with a chorus that went, "Oh, 99, I love you," and the single stalled in the bottom half of the Top 40. The album went gold on momentum, but the songs, however well-played, simply were not distinctive enough to consolidate the success Toto had achieved with its debut album.
Toto went from disappointment to disaster with its third album, the generic Turn Back. The group's ability to turn out highly competent studio rock was not translating into an individual sound, and since Turn Back had no memorable songs on it, one was left with nothing more than those famous chops that Toto possessed in abundance. The group would rally from this retreat, but for the moment a better title would have been Fall Back, as in, the bandmembers always had their studio jobs to fall back on.
It was do or die for Toto on the group's fourth album, and they rose to the challenge. Largely dispensing with the anonymous studio rock that had characterized their first three releases, the band worked harder on its melodies, made sure its simple lyrics treated romantic subjects, augmented Bobby Kimball's vocals by having other group members sing, brought in ringers like Timothy B. Schmit, and slowed down the tempo to what came to be known as "power ballad" pace. Most of all, they wrote some hit songs: "Rosanna," the old story of a lovelorn lyric matched to a bouncy beat, was the gold, Top Ten comeback single accompanying the album release; "Make Believe" made the Top 30; and then, surprisingly, "Africa" hit number one ten months after the album's release.
The members of Toto may have more relatives who are NARAS voters than any other group, but that still doesn't explain the sweep they achieved at the Grammy's, winning six, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year (for "Rosanna"). Predictably, rock critics howled, but the Grammys helped set up the fourth single, "I Won't Hold You Back," another soft rock smash and Top Ten hit. As a result, Toto IV was both the group's comeback and its peak; it remains a definitive album of slick L.A. pop for the early '80s and Toto's best and most consistent record. Having made it, the members happily went back to sessions, where they helped write and record Michael Jackson's Thriller.
Having traded in lead singer Bobby Kimball for Fergie Frederiksen, a smooth tenor wailer in the tradition of Journey's Steve Perry, Toto proceeded to follow its power ballad smash Toto IV with a Journey clone album, minus the aching ballads that had made Journey such a success. A workout for drummer Jeff Porcaro, keyboardist David Paich, and guitarist Steve Lukather, Isolation was anything but the kind of record those millions who had loved "Rosanna" were waiting for. It seemed intended to restore the bandmembers' heady studio reputations as hard rock technicians, which it did by dispensing with the elements that finally had made the band a big success in 1982.
At the close of the Isolation tour in 1985, Fergie Frederiksen was let go. Lukather claimed that the band was not meshing well with Frederiksen because he had a difficult time recording with them in the studio. The band held an audition and Joseph Williams, son of film composer John Williams and 1950s singer/actress Barbara Ruick, was chosen to take over lead vocals in early 1986.
With Joseph Williams now onboard officially, Toto wrote and recorded Fahrenheit, released in October 1986. While Williams is credited as lead vocalist, Frederiksen had begun recording a few tracks and is featured as a background vocalist on the track "Could This Be Love".
Fahrenheit brought the band back from the heavier sound of Isolation to their pop/rock roots. "I'll Be Over You" and "Without Your Love", which were both ballads sung by Lukather, were the two hit singles. The band recruited several guest musicians for the album. They recorded an instrumental piece entitled "Don't Stop Me Now" with legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. In addition, a then-unknown Paula Abdul appeared as a dancer in their "Till the End" music video. Michael McDonald provided backup vocals on the song "I'll Be Over You" (and appeared in the accompanying music video), while Eagles founder and songwriting giant Don Henley appeared on the Steve Porcaro penned track "Lea".
After its release, the band embarked on another world tour. Upon its conclusion in 1987, Steve Porcaro left the band to pursue a career in film and television scoring. Fahrenheit eventually went Gold on October 3, 1994. Steve Porcaro was never replaced and Toto decided to continue with only five members. Although Porcaro occasionally assisted the band on synthesizers for their subsequent studio albums (and appeared on their 1988 tour), David Paich handled most of the live keyboard work (with keyboard technician John Jessel assisting on certain dates) post 1988.
In 1988 Toto released their next album The Seventh One, featuring Jon Anderson of Yes on backup vocals on the single "Stop Loving You". The album's other single, "Pamela", became very popular and would be the band's last to hit the US Top 40. The Seventh One became the band's most successful release since Toto IV. The band toured from February through July 1988.
Although "The Seventh One Tour" was very successful, after it was finished the band decided to replace lead singer Joseph Williams. Originally, the band wanted to reunite with original vocalist Bobby Kimball to record new songs for a greatest hits record, but the record company instead insisted they hire South African singer Jean-Michel Byron. Before Byron was brought in, the band recorded "Goin' Home" with Kimball. This song was later featured on the Toto XX album as an 'unreleased song.' When Byron was brought in (in 1989) he and Toto recorded four new songs which were included on their greatest hits album Past to Present 1977–1990, released in 1990.
Once again without a lead vocalist, guitarist Steve Lukather sang lead vocals and became the new front man. Toto played at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991 and the band recorded Kingdom of Desire, which was released on Columbia Records in most parts of the world and on Clive Davis' label Relativity Records in the United States.
Jeff Porcaro died in an accident on August 5, 1992, at the age of 38 while working in his garden. According to the LA Times Report, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office lists the cause of death to be a heart attack from the hardening of the arteries caused by cocaine use. Facing the prospect of a tour without Jeff, Toto almost broke up. However, Jeff Porcaro's family insisted the band continue. Englishman Simon Phillips was the only drummer ever contacted to replace Jeff Porcaro since the band knew that Porcaro liked Phillips and because Lukather worked with Phillips on a previous tour with Santana and Jeff Beck in Japan in 1986.
In 1995 Toto recorded Tambu, their first album with Simon Phillips, which saw the band back with CBS (now Sony). A departure from Toto's sound of the late 1970s and 1980s, Tambu was a very organic release and featured the single "I Will Remember", which received moderate radio play. Tambu also featured John James and Jenny Douglas-McRae as backup singers on some of the tracks. Douglas-McRae even sang lead on the album's bonus track, "Blackeye", and also in a duet with Steve Lukather on "Baby He's Your Man". Tambu sold 600,000 copies worldwide.
1997 marked the band's 20th anniversary, and in order to commemorate it, David Paich and Steve Lukather started to go through several old tapes and demos for a special record of unreleased songs. In 1998 they released Toto XX with the single "Goin Home". Toto went on a small promotional tour with former members Bobby Kimball, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams.
After the "Toto XX" tour, Bobby Kimball rejoined the band as lead singer after 14 years. The band released Mindfields in early 1999 and embarked on the "Reunion" tour, touring worldwide and returning to the United States for the first time in six years. The new album featured three singles, "Melanie", "Cruel" and "Mad About You", a song co-written by David Paich and former Toto vocalist Joseph Williams. Later that year, a live album titled Livefields was released. The tour officially concluded in 2000, but the band played a few shows throughout 2001.
In 2002, in celebration of Toto's 25th anniversary, the band released Through the Looking Glass, a covers album that paid tribute to the band's musical influences, such as Bob Marley, Steely Dan, George Harrison and Elton John. Two singles were released, "Could You Be Loved", a Bob Marley cover, and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", a Beatles cover. The album was not a commercial success and many fans were upset about the release, thinking that the band should have written new material instead. However, the record gave the band material to promote their "25th Anniversary Tour", which started in 2002 and concluded in 2003. After the tour, Toto released a live album and DVD of the show titled Live in Amsterdam. Both the live album and the DVD were released in late 2003.
In early 2006, Toto released Falling in Between on the Italian label Frontiers, their first album of new material since 1999. The release featured extensive keyboard work from Steve Porcaro and a duet with Joseph Williams on the first single, "Bottom of Your Soul". Following the record's release, Toto embarked on an extensive worldwide tour in 2006, which continued into 2007 for a second leg. The 2007 leg featured Leland Sklar filling in on bass for Mike Porcaro due to an (at the time) undisclosed illness. 2007 featured extensive dates in both Europe and the United States, including an appearance at Moondance Jam in Walker, Minnesota. Former lead singer Fergie Frederiksen made a guest appearance at the Minneapolis date on May 5, 2007 and Joseph Williams also made a few guest appearances with the band in June 2007.
Toto released a two-CD set Falling in Between Live on Eagle Records to commemorate the tour. This live set marks the fourth for the band, following 1993's Absolutely Live, 1999's Livefields and 2003's Live In Amsterdam.
In 2013, celebrating their 35th anniversary, the band embarked on tour across Europe and North America, along with Japanese dates to follow in 2014. Their show on June 25, 2013 in Łódź, Poland was recorded for a live release and was released on April 29, 2014. On November 5, it was confirmed both on Toto's and David Paich's official Facebook pages that a new studio album was in the works and that the band planned to go into the studio early 2014.
On January 18, 2014, former vocalist Fergie Frederiksen died after a long battle with liver cancer. After the 2013 leg of the 35th anniversary tour, it was revealed via the band's official website on January 23, 2014 that Simon Phillips had departed the band to pursue a solo career. Phillips was then replaced by Steely Dan drummer Keith Carlock.
Toto released their 13th studio album and their first in nine years titled Toto XIV on March 20 (Europe), March 23 (UK and Oceania), and March 24, 2015 (North America). To promote the newly finished project, the band started a world tour running with an extensive European headline arena tour including appearances at key festivals, along with a North American tour to follow in the summer of 2015 and Asia later that year.
On April 6, 2015, Toto announced that they would embark on August 7, 2015 in Mashantucket, Connecticut with veteran progressive band Yes on a joint summer tour of North America due to end on September 12, 2015 in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Shannon Forrest has continued to perform as the band's drummer.
Toto released their anniversary album 40 Trips Around the Sun on February 9, 2018. They'll embark on their world tour promoting their album and celebrating 40 years of music.
1. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toto_(band)
2. All Music Guide to Rock. The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop and Soul. 3rd Edition 2002. Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Published by Backbeat Books, page 1150 - William Ruhlmann
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