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, decided 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 suggested the name “TOTO” after having watched The Wizard of Oz on TV, not to name the band after the dog, but as a name tha’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 was released and the debut single “Hold the Line” rapidly climbed the charts. With two more hit singles, “I’ll Supply the Love” and “Georgy Porgy”, TOTO’s debut album set new standards in pop/rock music at that time and earned them a Grammy nomination in 1978 as “Best New Artist”.
In 1979, TOTO released their second album Hydra. It featured 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 video for “99” looked exactly like a scene from the movie, an all white room with the band members all dressed in white.
The 1981 album, Turn Back, produced no hit singles, but 1982 marked the biggest year in TOTO's career. The album TOTO IV went platinum and the hit singles from this album, especially “Africa” and “Rosanna”, became classics and made TOTO a household name around the world. Before the TOTO IV tours began, David Hungate left the band and was replaced by the third Porcaro brother, Mike.
In 1983, while their fourth album was still selling millions all over the world, TOTO was the big winner at the Grammy Awards. They received six 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 won a Grammy for Best Rhythm and 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 fifth album, Bobby Kimball left and was replaced by Fergie Frederiksen from the band Le Roux. Isolation was released in early 1984, featuring two hit singles, “Stranger in Town” and “Holyanna”. This album became a favorite among the fans. In summer of 1984, TOTO recorded an instrumental for the Olympic Games, the boxing theme called “Moodido”. TOTO also wrote their first, and to this date only, movie score for David Lynch’s Dune, a monumental sci-fi movie.
In 1985 TOTO participated on the Charity album, USA for Africa. After yet another change of lead singer, TOTO released their sixth album, Fahrenheit, in 1986, with the voice of Joseph Williams, son of the famous film composer, John Williams. The big hit single from that album, “I’ll Be Over You”, was sung by Steve Lukather, however. Lukather did some shows in Japan with Jeff Beck and Santana, where he met Simon Phillips for the first time. In support of the Fahrenheit album, TOTO went on a big world tour that continued in the spring of 1987.
In 1987, Steve Porcaro officially left the band to pursue other projects but continued working with TOTO on their next album, appropriately titled The Seventh One. Returning to the sounds of the TOTO IV era, this albums scored 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 embarked on another world tour. After the tour, Joseph Williams left the band.
Steve Lukather released his first solo album simply called Lukather in 1989, showing his fondness for harder edged sounds. In support of the album, he toured Japan with Jeff Beck. Also this year, Los Lobotomys, a band consisting of some of the finest L.A. musicians, released a live album which featured Luke and Jeff.
TOTO got together again in 1990 for a greatest hits compilation called Past to Present. Their plan was to have Bobby Kimball come back and they actually recorded some songs for that album with him, but the record company forced them to use Jean-Michel Byron as new lead singer. Four new songs featuring Byron were included on the album, but he lasted only for this one album and the following tour when it became clear to band and fans that he wasn’t the right person to front TOTO. Despite all these problems, the first single, “Out of Love”, became a small hit in Europe while the album went platinum in most countries.
After the departure of Byron in 1991, Steve Lukather took over the role of lead singer. TOTO started writing songs for their next studio album and performed some of them at various summer festivals in Europe, including the Montreux Jazz Festival.
On August 5, 1992, only a short time before the release of the new album, Kingdom of Desire, Jeff Porcaro died 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 mourned 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 made the hard decision to go ahead with the tour because they felt Jeff would have wanted them to. Simon Phillips bravely took on the burden of sitting in on drums. The KOD tour became a very special tour for band and fans since nobody knew at that point if it would be their last tour. TOTO performed for more than three hours each night, playing songs from every album. Simon Phillips was well integrated into the band and was eventually asked by TOTO to join them permanently.
After returning from the KOD world tour, TOTO started working on their first live album, which was released in 1993. Titled Absolutely Live, it featured some of the highlights from their last tour. Steve Lukather spent the year recording his second solo album, Candyman, which was 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 Pena at his side, Luke went on an extensive and successful club tour through Europe and Japan in the summer and fall of 1994.
In 1995, TOTO wrote and recorded their first album with Simon Phillips on drums. They played some of the summer festivals in Europe where they presented three of their new songs which were very much acclaimed by the fans. Tambu was released in the fall and the first single, “I Will Remember”, went gold in several European countries and Japan. Unfortunately, Simon was not able to make it to the first leg of TOTO's world tour due to severe back problems. He was temporarily replaced by Gregg Bissonette, but returned in early 1996 for the second leg. TOTO spent the whole spring and summer of that year touring around the world, from Europe to Japan, South America and back to Europe, where they opened for Tina Turner in England in addition to doing their own shows. After returning home, TOTO took a break which the individual members used for pursuing solo projects.
In the fall of 1996, Simon Phillips released the solo album, Symbiosis, which was supported by a European tour in January and February of 1997. Right after that, he started working on his next solo album and returned to Europe in the summer for some festival appearances. Mike Porcaro teamed up with brother Steve to work on a Porcaro Brothers project which generated the single, “Young at Heart”, with Joseph Williams on vocals, the official song for the European Football Champions League final at which they also performed this song.
Steve Lukather finished up his third solo album, appropriately titled Luke, in the spring and took it on the road throughout the summer, playing ten weeks in Europe followed by another two weeks in Japan. In August David Garfield released 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 started searching through old tapes for material for the upcoming 20-year celebration album TOTO XX. Simon Phillips released Another Lifetime in September and embarked on a short tour of Japan in October before rejoining TOTO for their first ever tour of South Africa in November. TOTO played big stadiums and was joined by a South African choir and South African drummers to perform “Africa” in Johannesburg.
In January and February of 1998, Simon Phillips toured Europe while the rest of the band put the finishing touches to TOTO XX. In late February, Steve Lukather came to Europe to perform at the Jimi Hendrix Tribute Festivals. In May, TOTO XX was finally released. It rapidly climbed the European and Japanese charts. To celebrate the release of this album, TOTO teamed up with their ex-members Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams and Steve Porcaro for some special press parties in Europe, performing all of their old hits with their original singers and also some songs they hadn’t played in ages. Right after their return home, they started working collectively on their upcoming new studio album. Since they had so much fun with the ex-members in Europe, TOTO decided to continue working with them on the new album and even to take Bobby Kimball on the road with them for their next world tour. In November, taking a short break from recording the new TOTO album Mindfields, Steve Lukather toured Japan with guitar legend Larry Carlton, while Simon Phillips worked on an upcoming live album compiled from his recent solo tours.
To coincide with the release of the new album, Mindfields, in March of 1999, TOTO embarked on a big world tour in late February. After more than two highly successful months in Europe they went on a completely sold out Japanese tour in April. In May, TOTO started their first U.S. tour in six years, which continued throughout the summer.
In July, Simon Phillips released a live album called Out of the Blue, recorded during his 1998 European tour. TOTO started mixing their new live album, appropriately titled Livefields, in August. In September, Steve Lukather took part in the Linzer Klangwolke, a big open air event in Austria. Right in time for the start of the second European leg of the big world tour, the long-awaited live album, Livefields, was released in Europe in early October. After some more U.S. dates in December, TOTO wrapped up the year with a performance on the “Mark and Brian Christmas Show”.
The new millennium started with a Grammy nomination for TOTO. Mindfields was nominated in the category of “Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical”. In late January/early February, Steve Lukather did a short Japanese tour with Edgar Winter, while TOTO hit the road again some weeks later for more U.S. West Coast dates. Simon Phillips released an acoustic Jazz album together with Jeff Babko called Vantage Point in April. After a short Central America tour and some more U.S. shows, TOTO (with Jeff Babko temporarily replacing David Paich) returned to Europe for a festival tour in June which they continued in August. In between, Steve Lukather teamed up with Edgar Winter again for a European tour during July. After almost two years of touring, TOTO took a break which the band members used to work on other projects. Simon Phillips did a short clinic tour in England in fall, while Steve Lukather mixed the upcoming Luke/Carlton live album. David Paich wrote and produced the new Boz Scaggs album and also continued working on the long term TOTO boxed set project.
Simon Phillips and Jeff Babko took their Vantage Point project to the road in January 2001, touring Europe for two weeks. Together with Steve Lukather and Melvin Davis they also formed a new band called Doves of Fire, which plays '70’s fusion music. In late March, Steve Lukather started a tour of Asia with Larry Carlton to coincide with the release of their live album, No Substitutions. Luke and Larry continued their world tour with a U.S. leg in May and June, shortly interrupted by two TOTO shows in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend, before leaving for a European tour in July. In August and September, TOTO continued to play some shows in the U.S. and also opened for Eric Clapton in Mexico in October. In November, TOTO started recording a new album.
The new year started with two Grammy nominations for Steve Lukather and Larry Carlton, of which they ended up winning one for Best Pop Instrumental Album – No Substitutions (Live in Osaka). Luke and Simon’s new band, Doves of Fire, toured Japan in February, and after their return, TOTO put the finishing touches to the upcoming new album, Through the Looking Glass.
In June, Steve Lukather recorded a Christmas album called SANTAmental, which featured a lot of special guest musicians. After returning from a short European festival tour in July, TOTO signed a new worldwide recording deal with CMC, a division of EMI Recorded Music, to release Through the Looking Glass on October 14th. The first single, “Could You Be Loved”, written by Bob Marley, was released to radio stations in September. After the release of Through the Looking Glass, which rapidly climbed the European charts, TOTO embarked on their 25th anniversary world tour in late October, which started with a European leg and then continued until the end of December with lots of dates in the Far East.
In January 2003 TOTO continued the world tour in Europe and film a live DVD at the Amsterdam show to be released later that year. Luke and Simon teamed up with Derek Sherinian again for his latest album. After the end of the second European leg in February, Simon started mixing the upcoming live DVD which he finished after TOTO's U.S. tour in April. In June and July, TOTO hit the road again for the third European leg of the world tour. After a trip to Tahiti and New Caledonia TOTO took part once again in the Night of the Proms concert series, which lasted from October to the end of December.
TOTO continued touring in early 2004, visiting South East Asia, South America and Mexico before returning to the U.S. in May. They played two full shows with the Honolulu symphony orchestra in Hawaii. TOTO spent the summer in Europe once again interrupted by another symphony show in Atlanta with the Atlanta symphony orchestra. In September TOTO took part in the prestigious Tokyo Jazz Festival.
In mid-2005, while in the process of filling in for keyboardist David Paich on tour, Greg Phillinganes was asked to join the band permanently, thereby returning the band roster to six members with two keyboardists. A world-class player whose credits include Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, and many others, Greg Phillinganes has brought a new energy to the band on stage as well as in the studio.
Their first new studio record in three years - Falling in Between - was released in 2006. It is their first with all new original material since 1999's Mindfields.