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Toto Biography

Home > Music > T > Toto > Biography

Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years Active: 1977 – 2008, 2010 - present
Genres: Rock, Pop Rock, Hard Rock, Jazz Fusion

Toto is an American rock band founded in 1977 by session musicians. Toto is known for a musical style that combines elements of pop, rock, soul, funk, progressive rock, hard rock, R&B and jazz. Although they were regularly associated with the soft rock genre, Toto's broad array of musical styles helps them appeal to a variety of listeners.

The band enjoyed great commercial success in the late 1970s and 1980s, beginning with the band's self-titled debut released in 1978. After its release, “Toto” climbed the charts quickly, earning popularity with the hit single "Hold The Line," as well as the charting "I'll Supply the Love" and "Georgy Porgy." The band garnered international acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Next, the band began work on their next album, entitled “Hydra,” which was released in 1979 and featured the single "99," inspired by George Lucas' cult film “THX 1138.” It reached #37 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. Although the album “Hydra” failed to achieve the commercial success of Toto's first release, it still went gold.

In early 1981, Toto released their third album, “Turn Back.” The album was experimental and featured heavier guitar and fewer keyboards than on the previous two records. Ultimately, “Turn Back” failed to earn the radio play or critical acclaim of either of the previous two releases and the song "Goodbye Elenore" was the only official single released worldwide.

1982 marked the beginning of Toto's most successful era. With “Toto IV,” the band delivered one of the most commercially successful records of the 1980s. The album featured three singles that reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, "Rosanna," "Africa" and "I Won't Hold You Back." The album also appeared on several worldwide charts, introducing the band to new audiences around the globe. "Africa" topped the charts in February 1983 and was a constant presence on radios around the world, but it was "Rosanna" that earned the band multiple Grammy nominations. “Toto IV” earned six Grammy Awards, including "Record of the Year" for "Rosanna," "Album of the Year" and "Producer of the Year." In addition to "Africa" and "Rosanna," “Toto IV” continued its successful run with the release of another single, "Make Believe."

Several lineups changes then took place, including the departure of lead singer Bobby Kimball in 1984. Fergie Frederiksen (formerly of Angel, Trillion and Le Roux) was brought in as the new vocalist and the band recorded “Isolation,” released in November 1984. While “Isolation” did not achieve the acclaim or sales of “Toto IV,” it did achieve gold status, largely on the strength of the single "Stranger in Town." At the close of the “Isolation” tour, Fergie Frederiksen was let go. The band had an audition for a new lead singer and Joseph Williams was chosen to take over lead vocals. With Joseph Williams now on board officially, Toto wrote and recorded “Fahrenheit,” released in October 1986. While Williams is credited as lead vocalist, Frederiksen had begun recording a few tracks and is featured as a background vocalist on the track "Could This Be Love." “Fahrenheit brought the band back from the heavier sound of “Isolation” to their pop/rock roots. The ballads “I'll Be Over You" and "Without Your Love," which were both sung by Lukather, were the two hit singles. The band recruited several guest musicians for the album. They recorded an instrumental piece entitled "Don't Stop Me Now" with legendary jazz great Miles Davis. Michael McDonald provided backup vocals on the song "I'll Be Over You," while Eagles founder and songwriting giant Don Henley appeared on the haunting Steve Porcaro penned track "Lea." “Fahrenheit” eventually went gold in October 1994.

In 1988 Toto released their next album “The Seventh One,” featuring Jon Anderson of Yes on backup vocals on the single "Stop Loving You." The album's other single, "Pamela", also became very popular and would be the band's last to hit the US Top 40. “The Seventh One “became the band's most successful release since “Toto IV.”

South African singer Jean-Michel Byron was then chosen to replace lead singer Joseph Williams after he was asked to leave the band. When Byron was brought in, he and Toto recorded four new songs which were included on their greatest hits album Past to Present 1977-1990, released in 1990. After not meshing well with the band in the live setting Byron was subsequently fired.

Once again without a lead vocalist, guitarist Steve Lukather stepped up to the microphone and became the new front man. In 1991 and the band recorded “Kingdom of Desire,” which was released on Columbia Records in most parts of the world and on Clive Davis' label Relativity Records in the United States.

In 1995, Toto recorded “Tambu,” which saw the band back with CBS, now Sony. A departure from Toto's sound of the late 1970s and 1980s, “Tambu” was an organic release and featured the single "I Will Remember," which received moderate radio play. Other singles released were "Drag Him To The Roof" and "The Turning Point."

1997 marked the band's 20th anniversary, and in order to commemorate it, David Paich and Steve Lukather started to go through several old tapes and demos for a special record of unreleased songs. In 1998 they released “Toto XX” with the single "Goin Home." Toto went on a small promotional tour with former members Bobby Kimball, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams. After the "Toto XX" tour, Bobby Kimball rejoined the band as lead singer after 14 years.

The band released “Mindfields” in early 1999 and embarked on the "Reunion" tour, touring worldwide and returning to the United States for the first time in six years. The new album featured three singles, "Melanie," "Cruel" and "Mad About You," a song co-written by David Paich and former Toto vocalist Joseph Williams. Later that year, a live album titled “Livefields” was released.

In 2002, in celebration of Toto's 25th anniversary, the band released “Through the Looking Glass”, a covers album that paid tribute to the band's musical influences such as Bob Marley, Steely Dan, George Harrison and Elton John. Two singles were released, “Could You Be Loved,” a Bob Marley cover, and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” a Beatles cover.

In early 2006, Toto released “Falling in Between” on the Italian label Frontiers, their first album of new material since 1999. The release featured extensive keyboard work from Steve Porcaro and a duet with Joseph Williams on the first single, "Bottom of Your Soul." The album received very positive reviews from both critics and fans, some reviews even saying that it was the best Toto album since “Toto IV.”