Toto….Somewhere South of Kansas.
Growing up in the 1980’s, I used to see ad’s in all the Heavy Metal magazines (Circus, Hit Parader etc..) for Steve Lukather instructional guitar tapes. I always wondered how the guy from TOTO had the nerve to peddle his wares alongside guys like Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhodes?
The band [not the dog] TOTO kicked off their 35th anniversary tour at the Golden Nugget Casino right here in good ole’ Lake Charles La. The entire sold out crowd was able to see first hand just how great Mr. Lukather truly is on the guitar…oh, and the other members of the band are equality qualified as musicians!
TOTO still has 3 original members Lukather and keyboard legends David Paich and Steve Porcorro. Steve’s brothers Mike (bass) and Jeff (drums), who some will argue is the best rock drummer of all time, have both passed on to the great gig in the sky. The remaining 3 members are true showmen and really worked the crowd this night.
I am quite sure most people from these parts are well aware that original singer Bobby Kimball grew up 20 minutes down I-10 in Vinton La. and he also attended McNeese. Bobby is no longer in the band. Taking his place off and on since the mid to late 80’s is vocalist Joseph Williams. Joseph’s father is John Williams who wrote and conducted movie scores such as Star Wars and Jaws. Toto even played a few bars of that iconic Jaws theme during band introductions.
TOTO formed in the early 1970’s when the members of Boz Skaggs band became TOTO. They saw early success with the now classic rock fist pumping staple “Hold the Line”. They were also that rare band that had major success on early MTV with mega hits Rosanna and Africa, even though there was not one “pretty boy” in the band.
They played all of these hits to the Golden Nugget audience alongside lesser hits and deeper album cuts. You could tell the guys were really having fun onstage that night. For some of the backing band, this was their first ever live TOTO gig,
Longtime TOTO percussionist Lenny Castro (Rolling Stones, Clapton, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Eagles, Fleetwood mac etc.) did a fantastic job. Sax player Warren Ham played alongside his Ringo Star bandmate Steve Lukather. The band even took a jab at the drummer’s past gig with Taylor Swift…they all had a good chuckle.
TOTO treated the crowd to snippets of hit songs that they wrote for other artists, such as Boz Skaggs-Lowdown, The Tubes-She’s a Beauty and Michael Jackson’s Human Nature. The original 5 members all played on Thriller. Lukather played the guitar parts on Beat it and there is a rumor that he also recorded a solo, which he had no idea was re-recorded by Eddie Van Halen until the record came out.
All in all, it was a great show and these guys proved that there is a reason that they have been at the top of their game for so long. Oh, it took me several years to finally realize that was a reason that Steve Lukather’s instructional tapes were sold in magazines alongside my Metal Gods. Because he is every bit as good, if not better than all those 80’s spandex warriors put together! That is one lesson I have enjoyed learning over the years.
Article: Tracy McGinnis
Photos: Chad Moreno
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