Last updated: 10/30/2011 12:00:00 PM
In 1976, Jeff Porcaro and David Paich, who played together in high school bands and are already acclaimed studio musicians and currently working with Boz Scaggs, decide to form a new band. Joining them are Steve Lukather and Jeff's younger brother Steve Porcaro (who have been playing together in a band called Still Life), singer Bobby Kimball (from the L.A. band SS Fools) and bassist David Hungate. Jeff suggests the name "TOTO" after having watched The Wizard of Oz on TV, not to name the band after the dog, but as a name that's easy to pronounce and remember.
Coincidentally, "toto" in Latin means "all encompassing", so it is an accurate name for a band who wants to do all kinds of musical styles.
In September 1977, their first self-titled album is released and the debut single "Hold The Line" rapidly climbs the charts. With two more hit singles, "I'll Supply The Love" and "Georgy Porgy", TOTO's debut album sets new standards in pop/rock music at that time and earns them a Grammy nomination in 1978 as "Best New Artist".
In 1979, TOTO releases their second album Hydra. It features one of their biggest hits, "99", a song inspired by the George Lucas movie THX- 1138 about a society where people had numbers instead of names.
The 1981 album, Turn Back, produces no hit singles, but 1982 marks the biggest year in TOTO's career. The album TOTO IV goes platinum and the hit singles from this album, especially "Africa" and "Rosanna", become classics and make Toto a household name around the world. Before the TOTO IV tours begin, David Hungate leaves the band and is replaced by the third Porcaro brother, Mike.
In 1983, while their 4th album is still selling millions all over the world, TOTO is the big winner at the Grammy Awards. They receive 6 golden gramophones for Album Of The Year - TOTO IV, Record Of The Year - Rosanna, Producer Of The Year - TOTO, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals - Rosanna, Best Vocal Arrangement - Rosanna and Best Engineered Recording - TOTO IV. Steve Lukather also wins a Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song - Turn Your Love Around which he co-wrote with Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin.
After TOTO's big world tour, during pre-production of the 5th album, Bobby Kimball leaves and is replaced by Fergie Frederiksen from the band Le Roux. Isolation is released in early 1984 and features two hit singles, "Stranger In Town" and "Holyanna". This album becomes a favorite among the fans. In summer of 1984, TOTO records an instrumental for the Olympic Games, the boxing theme called "Moodido". TOTO also writes their first, and to this date only, movie score for David Lynch's Dune, a monumental sci-fi movie.
After yet another change of lead singer, TOTO releases their 6th album Fahrenheit in 1986, with the voice of Joseph Williams, son of famous film composer John Williams. The big hit single from that album, "I'll Be Over You", is sung by Steve Lukather however. Also that year, TOTO participates on the charity album USA For Africa. Steve Lukather does some shows in Japan with Jeff Beck and Santana, where he meets Simon Phillips for the first time. In support of the Fahrenheit album, TOTO goes on a big world tour that is continued in the spring of 1987.
In 1987, Steve Porcaro officially leaves the band to pursue other projects but continues working with TOTO on their next album, appropriately titled The Seventh One. Returning to the sounds of the TOTO IV era, this albums scores two hit singles in Europe, "Pamela" and "Stop Loving You" (the latter not being released in the U.S.). With the release of the album in 1988, TOTO embarks on another world tour. After the tour, Joseph Williams leaves the band.
Steve Lukather releases his first solo album simply called Lukather in 1989, showing his fondness for harder edged sounds. In support of the album, he tours Japan with Jeff Beck. Also this year, Los Lobotomys, a band consisting of some of the finest L.A. musicians, releases a live album which features Luke and Jeff.
TOTO gets together again in 1990 for a greatest hits compilation called Past to Present. Their plan is to have Bobby Kimball come back and they actually record some songs for that album with him, but the record company forces them to use Jean-Michel Byron as new lead singer. Four new songs featuring Byron are included on the album, but he lasts only for this one album and the following tour when it becomes clear to band and fans that he isn't the right person to front TOTO. Despite all these problems, the first single "Out Of Love" becomes a small hit in Europe while the album goes platinum in most countries.
After the departure of Byron in 1991, Steve Lukather takes over the role of lead singer. TOTO starts writing songs for their next studio album and performs some of them at various summer festivals in Europe, including the Montreux Jazz Festival.
On 5 August 1992, only a short time before the release of the new album Kingdom of Desire, Jeff Porcaro dies of a heart attack after an allergic reaction to a pesticide he was spraying in his garden. Family, band, friends, fans and the whole music world mourns the death of a man who was praised not only as the best drummer around but also a wonderful human being. With the release of the new album and an already booked world tour just a few weeks away, TOTO makes the hard decision to go ahead with the tour because they feel Jeff would want them to. Simon Phillips bravely takes on the burden of sitting in on drums. The KOD tour becomes a very special tour for band and fans since nobody knows at this point if it will be their last tour. TOTO performs for more than three hours each night, playing songs from every album. Simon Phillips is well integrated into the band and is eventually asked by TOTO to join them permanently.
After returning from the KOD world tour, TOTO starts working on their first live album, which is released in 1993. Titled Absolutely Live, it features some of the highlights from their last tour. Steve Lukather spends the year recording his second solo album Candyman, which is actually a group effort from his other band Los Lobotomys, but released as a solo album in Europe and Japan in 1994. With Simon Phillips, David Garfield and John Peña at his side, Luke goes on an extensive and successful club tour through Europe and Japan in the summer and fall of 1994.
In 1995, TOTO writes and records their first album with Simon Phillips on drums. They play some of the summer festivals in Europe where they present three of their new songs which are very much acclaimed by the fans. Tambu is released in the fall and the first single "I Will Remember" goes gold in several European countries and Japan. Unfortunately, Simon is not able to make it to the first leg of TOTO's world tour due to severe back problems. He is temporarily replaced by Gregg Bissonette, but returns in early 1996 for the second leg. TOTO spends the whole spring and summer of that year touring around the world, from Europe to Japan, South America and back to Europe, where they open for Tina Turner in England in addition to doing their own shows. After returning home, TOTO takes a break which the individual members use for pursuing solo projects.
In the fall of 1996, Simon Phillips releases the solo album Symbiosis which is supported by a European tour in January and February of 1997. Right after that, he starts working on his next solo album and returns to Europe in the summer for some festival appearances. Mike Porcaro teams up with brother Steve to work on a Porcaro Brothers project which generates the single "Young At Heart" with Joseph Williams on vocals, the official song for the European Football Champions League final at which they also perform this song.
Steve Lukather finishes up his third solo album, appropriately titled LUKE, in the spring and takes it on the road throughout the summer, playing ten weeks in Europe followed by another two weeks in Japan. In August David Garfield releases the long-awaited Tribute to Jeff album, featuring nearly 80 musicians, including all of Jeff's TOTO bandmates as well as his family and friends. In late 1997, Steve Lukather and David Paich start searching through old tapes for material for the upcoming 20 year celebration album TOTO XX. Simon Phillips releases Another Lifetime in September and embarks on a short tour of Japan in October before rejoining TOTO for their first ever tour of South Africa in November. TOTO plays big stadiums and is joined by a South African choir and South African drummers to perform "Africa" in Johannesburg.
In 1998, Toto asks former lead vocalists, Joseph Williams and Bobby Kimball to join them in some promotional outings for the upcoming "Toto XX" release. The possibilities of Bobby returning to the lead vocalist position become a reality as the year goes on. Bobby returns to the studio with the band and records a new album of material for release in 1999. "Mindfields" becomes the bands first album of 13 new songs in 4 years, and is the first time that former lead vocalist Bobby Kimball is back full-time. It is a return to the "classic Toto sound" from their first four albums when Bobby was with them.
They embark on a world "Reunion/Mindfields" tour which would last into 2000. They quickly followed Mindfields up with a live album from the tour in 2000, entitled, "Livefields". They continue their touring through-out 2000 and into 2001. In October, 2001, they open for Eric Clapton in Mexico. By the end of the year, the band was back in the studio to finish recording a collection of their favorite songs by other artists, which is set for release in September, 2002. The CD, titled, "Through The Looking Glass" is to be followed by a world tour including France, Germany, and Japan, with some dates in the United States.