Toto – Africa

Toto – Africa

Toto - Africa

The experienced Los Angeles, USA-based session team of David Paich (25 June 1954, Los Angeles, California, USA; keyboards, vocals, son of Marty Paich), Jeff Porcaro (b. Jeffrey Thomas Porcaro, 1 April 1954, Hartford, Connecticut, USA, d. 5 August 1992, Holden Hills, California, USA; drums), Steve Lukather (b. Steven Lee Lukather, 21 October 1957, San Fernando Valley, California, USA; guitar), Steve Porcaro (b. Steven Maxwell Porcaro, 2 September 1957, Hartford, Connecticut, USA; keyboards, vocals) and David Hungate (b. Texas, USA; bass) decided in 1976 to begin functioning in their own right after years of blithe dedication to the music of others on tour and disc. They brought in Louisiana-based singer Bobby Kimball (b. Robert Troy Kimball, 29 March 1947, Orange, Texas, USA) to complete the line-up of Toto, a name chosen to encompass the band’s collective abilities.

The band signed a contract with Columbia Records and managed to persuade over a million buyers to snap up their first two albums, but, overall, this rather faceless band met moderate success with moderate records – penned mainly by Paich – on which polished, close-milked vocal harmonies floated effortlessly over layers of treated sound. Toto (1978) was attended by a smash hit in ‘Hold The Line’ (US number 5, UK number 14), but the band’s most commercial period was 1982/3 when the Grammy Award-winning Toto IV generated two international hits with the atmospheric ‘Africa’ (US number 1/UK number 3) and ‘Rosanna’ (US number 2/UK number 12), as well as the US number 10 single, ‘I Won’t Hold You Back’. The latter won Grammys for Record Of The Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best Instrumental Arrangement (nearly 20 years later, it also provided a memorable vocal sample for DJ Roger Sanchez’s chart-topping single, ‘Another Chance’).

The following year, Kimball and Hungate were replaced by, respectively, Fergie Frederiksen (b. Dennis Hardy Frederiksen, 15 May 1951, Wyoming, Michigan, USA) and Mike Porcaro (b. 29 May 1955, USA). Sales of Isolation and the band’s soundtrack to the science fiction movie Dune were poor, but some lost ground was regained when it became known that Toto were responsible for the backing track of USA For Africa’s single ‘We Are The World’. With a new lead singer in Joseph Williams (b. 1 September 1960, USA, and the son of soundtrack composer John Williams), the band reached number 11 in the US with ‘I’ll Be Over You’, a composition by Lukather and Randy Goodrum from 1986’s Fahrenheit. Two years later ‘Pamela’, produced to the expected slick standards by Earth, Wind And Fire’s George Massenburg and Little Feat’s Bill Payne, reached US number 22.

By then, Steve Porcaro had returned to employment in the studios from which Toto had emerged, although he continued to work with the band on their studio albums. In 1990, Jean-Michel Byron (b. Byron DuPlessis, South Africa) briefly replaced Williams, before Lukather became the band’s vocalist. Jeff Porcaro died in 1992 after a heart attack caused by an allergic reaction to pesticide. His replacement on subsequent UK dates was British session drummer Simon Phillips (b. 6 February 1957, London, England). In 1995, the band released the blues-tinged Tambu, which attempted to steer their sound away from mainstream pop/rock. Bobby Kimball returned as lead vocalist in 1999, although the same year’s Mindfields was disappointing and proved to be their final release for Columbia. Subsequent releases have included the covers album Through The Looking Glass (2002) and Falling In Between (2006). The latter featured second keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (b. Gregory Phillinganes, Detroit, Michigan, USA), who had originally joined the band as tour cover for Paich. Bio source…

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