"I think I would have been more respected as a guitarist
if I had just done Toto."
Versatile musician, guitarist, vocalist, composer, producer and arranger Steve Lukather was born in Los Angeles on October 21 in 1957. Before his father bought him a guitar (a simple Kay acoustic) and a copy of Meet the Beatles at the age of seven, Luke started to play drums and keyboards.
The guitar and the Beatles album changed the life of the young boy.
In the years following Lukather taught himself how to play the guitar. He hung out with older friends who showed him how to play and how to set the chords. At high school he met the Porcaro brothers who were a couple of years older than him. Jeff Porcaro and David Paich were already doing session stuff.
During his high school period especially Jeff Porcaro turned out to be like a brother and mentor for Steve Lukather.
After playing and touring with Boz Scaggs, David Paich and Jeff Porcaro asked Steve Lukather, Bobby Kimball, David Hungate and Steve Porcaro in 1976 to join for their own band Toto. In the meantime David Paich, Jeff Porcaro and people like Jay Graydon involved Lukather more and more in the session business. In the late seventies and the eighties Lukather showed himself a first class and first called session musician, who played with everybody on the planet (check out the discography).
In September 1977 Toto released their first album Toto that generated the hit singles Hold the line, I'll supply the love and Georgy Porgy. With the album David Paich and Steve Lukather started a more than 25 years Toto career. As the diagram in this website points out Lukather did some minor contributions to the songwriting in the first years of the Toto career. However his contributions increased by degrees.
The year 1982 turned out to be the most successful (commercially) in Toto's and Lukather's career. Lukather, Paich and Jeff and Steve Porcaro contributed heavily to Michael Jackson's Thriller album, that turned out to be the most successful album in music history ever (over 50 million copies). The album Toto IV went platinum and the hitsingles Rosanna and Africa became all time classics. A year later Toto received six golden grammophones at the Grammy Awards in relation to Toto IV and Lukather gained a Grammy for best rhythm & blues song Turn your love around, co-written with Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin.
Although the next Toto albums were less successful than Toto IV, Lukather was (co-)writing more than ever and appeared to be more and more selective in his session work..
After touring with Jeff Beck, Simon Phillips and Carlos Santana in Japan, Lukather released in 1989 his first solo album Lukather, music wise a very heterogeneous album with contributions of lots of musical friends he respected and had worked with: Michael Landau, Danny Kortchmar, Randy Goodrum, Eddie Van Halen, David Paich, Steve Stevens, Jeff Porcaro, Richard Marx etc. In the same year he released the first (self-titled) album of his side project Los Lobotomys, live recorded with the cream of westcoast musicians like David Garfield, Jeff Porcaro, Vince Colaiuta and Will Lee for example.
In 1991, right after the departure of Toto's fourth lead singer Jean-Michel Byron, Steve Lukather takes over the role of lead singer in the band.
In 1992, right after the Kingdom of desire recordings, Lukather had to cope with one of the most heavy losts in his life, the sudden death of his brother and mentor Jeff Porcaro, who died of a heart attack after an allergic reaction to a pesticide he was spraying in his garden.
A few weeks before the Kingdom of desire tour the three Toto members Steve Lukather, David Paich and Mike Porcaro decided to go ahead with the tour and asked Simon Phillips, who toured with Lukather before in Japan, to replace Jeffrey. This decision turned out to be a 'lucky' one, because Simon developed himself as an integrated member of Toto and a very stimulating musical partner for Lukather and his band Los Lobotomys.
After the Kingdom of desire tour Lukather apparently had to change his mind, on his life and on his musical career. On the Toto album Tambu he and his musical mates did a lot of personal reflection in the lyrics of the songs.
What's coming next for Lukather is a second solo album, Candyman (1994), actually a very coherent and heavy Los Lobotomys project with Simon Phillips, David Garfield and Fee Waybill, his third solo album Luke (1997), a very personal and musical journey through the past, his fourth solo album Santamental (2003), with very hazardous fusion and rock interpretations of classic and new Xmas songs, five new Toto projects culminating in the return of Bobby Kimball as lead singer on Mindfields (1999), Livefields (1999), Through the looking glass (2002) and 25th Anniversary Live in Amsterdam (on dvd and cd), and lots of interesting musical side projects. Contributions to projects of David Garfield, Richard Marx, Mike Terrana, Pat Torpey, Gregg Bissonette etc. and touring with his friend and musical mentor Larry Carlton and his mate Edgar Winter.
During their Japanese tour in 1998 Carlton and Lukather recorded a couple of shows. In 2001 they released a selection of songs recorded in the Blue Note in Osaka, in November 1998, on their live album No substitutions. They finally got their honour on February 27th 2002 in L.A.: Larry and Luke are the winners of the Grammy in category 11 Best Pop Instrumental Album for solo artists, duos or groups with their album No substitutions. Luke stated that this award was particularly meaningful for him because of who his winning partner is.
In view of his musical development, Lukather became more and more open, sensitive and pure. His voice developed strong and warm and his guitar sound became more and more direct and sharp, no matter if he's raging or playing tender ballads. All these developments seem to come together on Lukather's contributions to the album Inertia (2001) by Derek Sherinian, with Simon Phillips, Zakk Wylde, Jerry Goodman and Tom Kennedy. .
In 2004 and 2005 Lukather contributed to new albums and songs of some old musical friends like Van Halen, Joe Cocker, Edgar Winter, Les Paul & Friends and Tommy Lee. On top of touring with Toto and his new own band El Grupo (with Steve Weingart, Oskar Cartaya and Joey Heredia), Lukather spent alot of time in the studio in 2005 with his Toto mates to record the new Toto album Falling in between, released in 2006 and followed by a major world tour in 2006 and 2007 and the first months of 2008, ending up with a Japan tour together with Boz Scaggs in March 2008, which makes the Toto circle round. Having Greg Phillinganes as an official Toto member, replacing David Paich at the live concerts, Lukather and his Toto mates have given their best for the new album.
From September 2006 till the summer of 2007, during the spare weeks he wasn’t on tour with Toto, Lukather worked on his new solo album Ever changing times, encouraged by his longtime co-writing friend Randy Goodrum. The list of special guest also includes former Toto singer Joseph Williams and Chicago’s Bill Champlin on background vocals, Leland Sklar on bass, Steve Weingart, Jeff Babko, Randy Goodrum on keyboards and synths plus a Steve Porcaro cameo on the instrumental track, Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums and other friends and guest stars who all lent their talent to ensure a truly exciting and fresh result.
The results of this new studio effort, released in February 2008, are eleven songs which incorporate all aspects Steve Lukather is well known for. Of course the release of Ever changing times will get a follow up by a solo world tour from June 2008.
In the summer of 2008 Lukather decided to leave Toto, which meant the end of the band, and a full focus on his solo career. After two years of touring with his own band (Steve Weingart, Eric Valentine & Carlitos del Puerto) he started the recording of his new solo record All's well that ends well in January 2010. The album has been released fall 2010. In April 2010 he got the international Eddy Christiani Award for 33 years of guitar mastership.
In the 1993 duologue with his good friend Eddie Van Halen Lukather sighed that he would have been more respected as a guitarist if he had just done Toto. That statement has got everything to do with the mind setting of the critics who tried to shadow the musical development of Steve Lukather. How easy and comfortable is it to get a musician into an explicit corner of the musical history? And how much trouble do you want to give yourself to sift out the versatility, the importance and the delight of the musical capacities of Steve Lukather?