Artist Profile: Toto


Formed in 1977 in Los Angeles, California, Toto is a rock band that is currently composed of David Paich on keyboards and vocals, Steve Lukather on guitars and vocals, Joseph Williams on lead vocals, and Steve Porcaro on keyboards. Aside from being a rock band, Toto is also known for their different musical styles such as soul, funk, R&B, hard rock, pop, jazz, and blues. The band is known for their hit songs such as Rosanna, Hold the Line and Africa. Throughout their career, Toto has released a total of 14 studio albums and sold over 40 million copies all over the world. They also won a handful of Grammy Awards and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. In this article, we are going to know more about Toto and their contributions to the music industry.


Before the band was formed in 1976, most of its members were already in the Los Angeles music scene and some of them were even born into the business. David Paich was the son of Marty Paich who worked on Ray Charles’ 1962 hit album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Other members such as Jeff Porcaro has performed on the albums of Seals and Crofts, Sonny and Cher, Steely Dan, and Boz Scaggs. Paich and Porcaro met each other when they were attending Grant High School where they eventually formed the band named Rural Still Life. The two decided to recruit David Hungate as their bassist, Steve Lukather as their guitarist,  Jeff Porcaro’s brother, Steve Porcaro as their keyboard player, and former S.S Fools vocalist Bobby Kimball as their lead vocals. The band landed a record deal with Columbia Records and began recording their debut album in 1977.

Mainstream Success

According to some reports, the band came up with their name while they were recording their first album. Jeff Porcaro wrote the word Toto on their demo tapes in order to distinguish them. And in the early 1980s, the band members of Toto told the press that they got their name from Toto the Dog from the famous novel Wizard of Oz.

The band released their self-titled debut album in 1978 which climbed the charts quickly and spawned the hit singles, Hold the Line, Georgy Porgy, and I’ll Supply the Love. Along with their debut album’s success, the band earned international acclaim as well and they were even nominated for their first Grammy Award in the category Best New Artist. The following year, Toto embarked on their first tour to further promote their album and they decided to recruit Lenny Castro on percussion and Tom Kelly on guitars to increase the depth of their sound. Toto continued to add touring musicians for all their tours.

At the end of their tour, Toto began working on their follow up album called Hydra which was released later in 1978. The album featured the hit single entitled 99 which was inspired by a George Lucas film, THX 1138.  Along with their second album, Toto also released four promotional music videos for their songs All Us Boys, 99, St George and the Dragon, and the album’s title track. The music videos were all directed by Bruce Gowers. Even if Hydra failed to achieve success than Toto’s debut album, it still went gold. After the release of Hydra, Toto embarked on the Hydra Tour which both had American and international dates.

In 1891, Toto released their third studio album called Turn Back which featured fewer keyboards and heavier guitar riffs compared to their two past albums.


The year 1982 marked the start of Toto’s most successful era. After they received disappointing sales with their album Turn Back, Toto was under great pressure from their record company to create a new hit record.  The band released their album Toto IV which became one of the most successful albums of the year. Toto IV featured the Billboard Hot 100 hit singles I Won’t Hold Back, Africa, and Rosanna. The album also managed to reach the top spot on several international charts. Their song, Africa, enjoyed so much radio airtime all across the globe but it was the song Rosanna that won Toto seven Grammy Awards. The album continued to be successful with the release of another hit single entitled Make Believe. The band toured for the rest of 1982 to further promote their album.

Following Toto IV’s release, the Toto’s bassist, David Hungate left the group because he decided to relocate to Nashville to pursue a production career. Mike Porcaro, the third of the Porcaro brothers, replaced Hungate as the band’s bassist. In 1983, Toto’s lead singer, Bobby Kimball faced prosecution for drug-related charges and he was ordered to stand trial but he pleaded not guilty. The charges were eventually dismissed but he was cut off the band in 1984. Fergie Frederiksen replaced Kimball as Toto’s vocalist and he recorded with the band for their fifth studio album called Isolation that was released in 1984. Even if the band did not achieve the success that Toto IV did, it still managed to reach Gold status all thanks to the single Stranger in Town. The band embarked on the Isolation tour in 1985 to promote their album.

After the Isolation tour, Frederiksen was removed from the band because Lukather claimed that the band had a difficult time with Frederiksen while they were recording the Isolation album. The band then held auditions for the position of the lead vocal and they eventually end up with Joseph Williams. When Toto added Williams permanently into the band, they immediately started recording their sixth studio album called Fahrenheit which was released on October 1986. The album brought Toto’s pop and rock roots. It spawned the hit singles Without Your Love and I’ll Be Over You. After the album’s release, Toto embarked on a world tour and when the tour ended in 1987, Steve Porcaro decided to leave the band to pursue a career in television and acting. Toto never replaced Steve and they just went on with only five members.

In 1988, Toto released their seventh studio album entitled The Seventh One which spawned the hit singles Stop Loving You and Pamela. The album proved to be Toto’s most successful song since their album Toto IV. The band embarked on The Seventh One Tour which proved to be very successful. However, before the band finished their tour, they decided to replace their lead singer, Joseph Williams because the band wanted to reunite with their original vocalist, Bobby Kimball so that they could record new songs for their greatest hits album. But their record label suggested that they should just hire South African singer Jean-Michael Byron. In 1989, Byron recorded four new songs with Toto that were included on their greatest hits album called Past to Present 1977-1900 which was released in 1990. However, Toto did not get along with Byron because he had a diva-like behavior and a flashy stage presence that caused a little problem during their Planet Earth tour. Byron was eventually fired from the band after the tour.


Having no vocalist in the band, Steve Lukather grabbed the position and became Toto’s new frontman. And in 1992, they released their eighth studio album entitled Kingdom of Desire. That same year, Jeff Porcaro died in an accident while he was working in his garden. According to some reports, he apparently died from a heart attack that was caused by cocaine use. The band almost broke up because they would not want to embark on a tour without Jeff but Porcaro’s family insisted that the band should carry on. Toto contacted Simon Phillips to be their new drummer and they went on the tour that they dedicate to Jeff’s memory. On December 1992, a tribute concert for Jeff Porcaro was held at the Universal Amphitheater where several musicians such as Eddie Van Halen, Richard Marx, Boz Scaggs, and Michael McDonald performed. The following year, Toto released a live album entitled Absolutely Live.

In 1995, Toto released their ninth studio album called Tambu and this was the first album that features Simon Phillips on vocals. Tambu featured the songs Drag Him to the Roof, I Will Remember, The Turning Point, Baby He’s Your Man and Blackeye. The album sold over 600,000 copies all over the world. To support their album, Toto went on the Tambu Tour which proved to be another successful tour of the band.

In order to commemorate their 20th year in the music industry in 1997, Toto decided to go through some old tapes and demos and create an album that features all their unreleased songs. The following year, they released Toto XX which featured the single entitled Goin’ Home which was sang by Bobby Kimball. The band then embarked on a small promo tour for their album with their former members such as Steve Porcaro, Bobby Kimball, and Joseph Williams. After the tour, Kimball officially rejoined the band as their lead singer after 14 years. In 1999, they released their tenth studio album called Mindfields and went on the Reunion Tour across the United States and all around the globe. Later in 1991, the band released another live album called Livefields.

2000- Present

In celebration of their 25th anniversary in 2002, Toto released their eleventh studio album called Through the Looking Glass which featured cover songs of the band’s musical influences such as George Harrison, Bob Marley, Elton John, and Steely Dan. However, the album failed to be a commercial success and most of Toto’s fan was disappointed and thought that they should have released new materials instead. Despite these reviews, the album gave Toto material to promote on their 25th Anniversary Tour that started in 2002. After the tour ended in 2003, the band released another live album and a DVD called Live in Amsterdam.

When their tour was near its end in early 2003, David Paich decided to take a leave from touring to spend more time with a sick relative. His spot was filled in by Greg Phillinganes for the rest of the tour.

In 2006, the band released their twelfth studio album called Falling In Between under the Italian record label, Frontiers. The album featured the single Bottom of Your Heart. After the album’s release, Toto embarked on the Falling In Between Tour worldwide in 2006. However, during the concert’s second leg in 2007, Mike Porcaro was temporary replaced by Leland Sklar on playing the bass because of some undisclosed illness. To commemorate the tour, Toto released their 4th  live album called Falling in Between Live under Eagle Records. The live album was accompanied by a DVD of their show in Paris. In 2008, the band went on a hiatus to which Lukather confirmed on Toto’s website.

In 2010, Toto reunited for a brief tour of Europe for the benefit of their co-member, Mike Porcaro who was diagnosed with ALS. The band’s line up for the tour included Steve Lukather, Joseph Williams, David Paich, Simon Phillips, and Steve Porcaro.

In 2013, to celebrate their 35th year in the music industry, Toto went on a tour across North America and Europe. The following year, David Paich announced on the band’s Facebook page that they are working on a new studio album.

In January 2014, their former vocalist Fergie Frederiksen died after a long battle with liver cancer. And after their tour, Simon Phillips announced that he will be leaving the band to pursue a solo career and he was immediately replaced by Steely Dan’s former drummer, Keith Carlock.

On 2015, Toto released their fourteenth studio album called Toto XIV. To promote their new album, the band started a world tour featuring an extensive European date that includes performances at major music festivals. On March that same year, Mike Porcaro died because of the complications from his battle with ALS.  

In 2018, Toto released their anniversary album entitled 40 Trips Around the Sun and embarked on a world tour to promote their album and celebrate their 40th year in the music industry.


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