Steve Lukather’s Almost Fatal Reunion with Toto
via BackstageAxxess / Youtube
The American rock band Toto has had a lot of ups and downs during its long career: lineup changes, a few hiatuses, deaths, substance abuse, near-breakups, and a whole lot more.
One member, guitarist Steve Lukather, stuck through all of these until 2008 when he decided to call it quits to “exorcise some demons.” But they will reform after two years in a reunion that Lukather had to leave before it kills him.
The familiar demons
Battling booze and substance abuse isn’t something new for Toto, or any other 70s or 80s band for that matter. But it became one of the band’s most difficult obstacles, especially if you ask their former, and most popular, vocalist Bobby Kimball.
“We were not the only band that did blow. We weren’t as bad as most. But thanks to Mr. Kimball, that became like our badge of honor,” keyboardist Steve Porcaro recalled. The band had to kick out Kimball in 1983 due to his inability to perform after consuming so much coke.
The death of drummer and Toto’s figurehead Jeff Porcaro in 1992 was one of the worst, if not the worst, events in the band’s history. It devastated the band.
“I can’t tell you what that meant. It was like losing the heart and soul of the band,” Lukather shared in an interview with Something Else! in 2011.
All of these will haunt the guitarist until 2008 when he had to call it quits. “I was drinking myself to death, I was losing my marriage, my mother was dying,” the long-time member of Toto revealed in a separate interview with Classic Rock. “It was a bad time. I needed to get myself together or I was going to end up killing myself.”
But, as Lukather said, he had to come back from the ashes. And that was when the band decided to reunite in 2010 to benefit their bassist Mike Porcaro, who was battling ALS.
“Everybody came back, sober, very together, and the response we got to that and how much help we were able to give Mike financially, it was fun again.”
But the fun was short-lived.
Nearly “killed himself”
“I couldn’t keep going out there by myself with my high school band. It was like we were faking it,” Lukather said.
It was the familiar demons haunting him. He felt lonely seeing that the band he founded was just there anymore. “All my buddies were gone. I wasn’t getting along with the other members,” the guitarist wistfully recalled.
“I boozed. I couldn’t stand what I was doing, so I left before it killed me.”
Toto might still tour every now and then, play some of their fans’ favorite songs and reunite once in a while, but the band would never do another album again.
“We played the records the way they were meant to be played again. We had been fooling around with the arrangements just out of boredom. Ticket sales were overwhelming. I said, OK, I could do this every once in a while. Look, we’re never going to make another record again. But we can still do something fun for the fans every once in a while.”
In spite of what Lukather said in the 2011 interview, Toto would release their 14th studio album (their first in nine years) XIV and embarked on a world tour to promote it.
Sadly, a few days before they released XIV, Mike would pass away at his home in Los Angeles, after struggling with ALS for eight years.