In the late 70s, six of L.A.'s top session players gathered to create Toto, one of the big pop supergroups of the era whose music countered the new wave and disco of the day. Four years after scoring their first hit "Hold The Line," their album Toto IV became a global phenomenon, winning three top Grammy Awards as its hit single "Rosanna" (named for guitarist Steve Lukather's girlfriend, actress Rosanna Arquette) won three more, including Song of the Year. While the band found it hard to follow up this kind of success, Toto later became hugely popular in Europe and Japan and even after the tragic 1992 death of founding drummer Jeff Porcaro, has continued to tour and record.
Critics may never have been kind to the playful pop music Toto created, but none could argue with the musicianship of the elite L.A. musicians who joined forces in 1978-- keyboardist David Paich, Lukather, vocalist Bobby Kimball, keyboardist Steve Porcaro, bassist David Hungate and Jeff Porcaro. Three members had musical family ties. Paich was the son of arranger Marty Paich, and the Porcaros were the sons of percussionist Joe Porcaro. Members of the band had met in high school and at studio sessions in the 70s, and Paich, Hungate and Jeff Porcaro wrote songs and performed on Boz Scaggs' multiplatinum 1976 album Silk Degrees.
Toto's self-titled 1978 debut hit the Top Ten, sold two-million copies, and spawned the gold Top Ten single "Hold the Line." The somewhat less successful follow-ups, 1979's Hydra (which featured the hit "99") and 1981's Turn Back were mere warm-ups for the incredible impact of Toto IV in 1982. The multi-platinum Top Ten album spawned the #1 hit "Africa," and the Top Ten "Rosanna" and "I Won't Hold You Back." The album won Album of the Year honors, Best Engineered Recording and Best Producer (the group), while "Rosanna" won Record of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Instrumental Arranement with Vocal.
In 1984, Hungate left and was replaced on bass by another Porcaro brother, Mike. Toto's fortunes sagged when Kimball quit and was replaced by Dennis"Fergie" Fredericksen. The classic Toto sound changed more or less with every new lead singer, and many longtime fans in America abandoned their interest. Among these vocalists were Joseph Williams (son of composer John Williams), for 1986's Farenheit, and Jean-Michel Byron for the handful of new tracks on Past to Present 1977-1990. Steve Porcaro quit in 1988, prior to the release of The Seventh One, and Lukather became the group's lead singer after Byron.
Jeff Porcaro appeared on one last album with the band (Kingdom of Desire) before his sudden death in 1992. By this time, Toto was far more popular in Japan and Europe than at home. After adding British drummer Simon Phillips, they began releasing albums overseas first. Tambu made its Stateside appearance in 1996, months after its European release. Kimball returned to the lineup after 15 years for 1999's Mindfields.
A Toto 25th Anniversary World Tour in 2002 and 2003 accompanied the independently released album, Through The Looking Glass, which featured backing vocals by Davey Johnstone and James Ingram. A live CD souvenir of the experience followed. In 2000 1nd 2001, Lukather toured with Edgar Winter and Larry Carlton. No Substitutions, a live album recorded with Carlton, received a Grammy in 2002.