Inside Toto: Keyboardist Steve Porcaro's Musical Story


Who is Steve Porcaro?

As a founding member of the Grammy-winning, platinum-selling rock band Toto, songwriter/keyboardist Steve Porcaro had huge pop hits with “Hold the Line,” “Rosanna,” and “Make Believe.” He also co-wrote “Human Nature” on Michael Jackson‘s 30 million-selling Thriller album. Other members of the band were his brothers Jeff Porcaro and Mike PorcaroDavid PaichDavid Hungate, Steve Luthaker, Bobby Kimball, Fergie Fredericksen, and Joseph WilliamsToto also became in-demand session musicians, playing on numerous records.

Early Years: Musical Roots in Connecticut

Born in Connecticut, Steve Porcaro‘s musical roots run deep in his family tree. He started taking piano lessons when he was four years old, though while growing up he spent a lot of time on the baseball field. With his brothers, drummer Jeff Porcaro and bassist Mike PorcaroSteve began playing in various bands. The Porcaro brothers met David Paich when their fathers, Joe Porcaro and Marty Paich, worked together on Glen Campbell‘s TV variety show. 

Touring with Gary Wright - Dreamweaver and Bozz

The keyboardist later toured with Gary Wright (“Dreamweaver”) and Boz Scaggs around the time of his Silk Degrees album. Members of that touring band would later form Toto

Rise to Fame: Toto's Breakthrough Hits

Toto’s self-titled LP was released by Columbia in 1977. Going platinum, it yielded the gold single “Hold the Line,” “I’ll Supply the Love,” and “Georgy Porgy” — a favorite sample source for rap/hip hop groups in the ’90s, as was “Human Nature.” Their other LPs were Hydra and Turn Back. 1982 would prove to be a banner year for the group. Their million-selling LP Toto IV had a Grammys sweep, winning Album of the Year, Record of the Year (“Rosanna” ), and Producer of the Year.

Rise to Fame:

Toto skyrocketed to fame with their self-titled debut album in 1978, featuring the chart-topping singles “Hold the Line” and “Georgy Porgy.” Porcaro’s keyboard wizardry and songwriting prowess quickly became synonymous with Toto’s signature sound, characterized by rich harmonies and intricate arrangements.

Global Success and Iconic Hits:

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Toto continued to dominate the charts with a string of hits, including “Rosanna,” “Africa,” and “I Won’t Hold You Back.” Porcaro’s innovative compositions and musical ingenuity played a central role in shaping the band’s enduring legacy as one of the most influential acts in rock history.

1982 would prove to be a banner year for the group. Their million-selling LP Toto IV had a Grammys sweep, winning Album of the Year, Record of the Year (“Rosanna” ), and Producer of the Year. After seven albums, Toto disbanded in 1988.

Beyond Toto:

While Toto remains Porcaro’s musical home, he has also made significant contributions outside the band. As a sought-after session musician and composer, Porcaro has collaborated with a diverse array of artists across multiple genres, leaving an indelible mark on the music industry.

Working with Michael Jackson:

Steve, alongside his brother Jeff and fellow Toto bandmate David Paich, contributed significantly to Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking album “Thriller,” released in 1982. Steve Porcaro co-wrote and co-produced the track “Human Nature,” which became one of the album’s standout hits. The song showcased Porcaro’s talent for crafting infectious melodies and intricate arrangements, perfectly complementing Michael’s distinctive vocals. 

Steve’s collaboration with Michael Jackson extended beyond “Thriller,” with the musician contributing keyboards to several other tracks in Jackson’s discography. 

Steve Porcaro has also made significant strides in the world of film scoring.  He has lent his musical expertise to various film projects, collaborating with directors and producers to create memorable soundtracks that capture the essence of each story. This week Steve Porcaro joins us to tell us all about his incredible musical journey. 

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