On October 2nd, 1978, Toto released their first self-titled LP on Columbia Records along with a single called "Hold The Line". Radio stations were quick to pick up on the 45 and just a week after its debut it had entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #84. Climbing steadily, the record peaked at #5 in mid-January, 1979. A follow-up single, "I'll Supply The Love", stalled at #45 the following April and a third cut, "Georgy Porgy" topped out at #48 in early June. That same year, the band was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, but lost to the L.A. group A Taste Of Honey. Touring that year in support of their album, Toto brought along guitarist Tom Kelly and percussionist Lenny Castro for live performances.
Toto's second album, "Hydra", was released in October, 1979, and although it reached #37 on the Billboard chart and eventually went Gold, it proved to be far less popular than their debut LP. A single issued from the collection called "99", which was a a tribute to George Lucas' film THX 1138, managed to get to #26 in America. Years later, Steve Lukather would admit that it was one of his least favorite Toto songs, which may explain why the band rarely performed the tune in concert after the Hydra tour in 1980. Two other singles, "St. George And The Dragon" and "All Of Us Boys" failed to chart. January, 1981 brought Toto's third studio album, "Turn Back", which failed to produce a hit single, even though the LP itself sold nearly 900,000 copies world wide and made the Top Ten in Japan. It was widely rumored that the band nearly lost their recording contract after this failure.
Responding to the pressure to produce a hit record, Toto rebounded in 1982 with "Toto IV" in April, 1982. This time, fans reacted favorably to the new material, sending the debut single, "Rosanna" to #2 in America during an eighteen week stay in the Top 40. It also cracked the Top 30 in fifteen other countries around the world and went on to win Record Of The Year at the Grammy Awards in February, 1983. Next out of the gate was "Make Believe", which got to #30 on the Billboard chart and #19 on the Cash Box Best Sellers list. It was followed by what would prove to be Toto's only number one record in the U.S., "Africa", in February, 1983. The song was also a Top Ten hit in ten other countries, including England were it reached #3. A third single gleaned from "Toto IV" was "I Won't Hold You Back", which hit #10 on the Hot 100 and reached the top of the Adult Contemporary chart, where it stayed for three weeks. In all, "Toto IV" received six Grammy Awards, including Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Producer Of The Year, and Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical.
Despite the enormous success of "Toto IV", bassist David Hungate wanted to spend more time with his family and left the band in the Spring of 1982. He would go on to a successful career as a Nashville session musician. His replacement came in the form of Mike Porcaro, the middle brother of Toto members Jeff and Steve Porcaro. This set-back, along with legal troubles for lead singer Bobby Kimball, eroded the band's ability to immediately follow "Toto IV". Although Kimball's troubles with the law were dismissed in May, 1983, he was subsequently fired in 1984. Bobby relocated to Germany for a solo career and session artist. His spot in the band was initially offered to Richard Page of Mr. Mister, but he turned the opportunity down and decided to stay with his own group. Toto then turned to Fergie Frederiksen (formerly of Angel, Trillion and Le Roux), who helped them record the album "Isolation", released in November, 1984. Although it failed to achieve the lofty heights of its predecessor, the LP did attain Gold Record status and reach #42 on the Billboard album chart. A single pulled from the collection, "Stranger In Town", reached #30. A three month tour in support of the album kicked off in February, 1985. At the end of the trek, Fergie Frederiksen was dismissed, allegedly over his inability to mesh with the others in the studio. After holding auditions, Joseph Williams was hired in early 1986 and was onboard for the recording of "Fahrenheit", released that October. The album also contained a few tracks previously recorded by Fergie Frederiksen. Two singles from the LP reached the American Top 40, "I'll Be Over You" (#11) and "Without Your Love" (#38). Several guest artists appeared on the album, including trumpeter Miles Davis, along with vocal contributions from The Doobie Brothers' Michael McDonald and The Eagles' Don Henley.
March 1st, 1988 brought Toto's seventh album, cleverly titled "The Seventh One", which featured the single "Pamela". That song would prove to be their final Billboard Top 40 hit when it peaked at #22 in early May. Although the LP stopped climbing in the US when it got to #64, it was a Top 10 hit in seven European countries. A six month tour followed, after which Joseph Williams was let go due to a failing voice. Reuniting with Bobby Kimball was the group's first choice, but record company executives pressured them to hire South African singer Jean-Michel Byron. His vocals can be heard on four new songs which were included on the greatest hits package, "Past to Present 1977-1990". Unfortunately Byron had trouble fitting in with the other members and he was fired at the end of the Planet Earth tour in December, 1990. Instead of seeking out another lead vocalist, Steve Lukather stepped up to be the new front man. Tragedy struck Toto on August 5th, 1992 when Jeff Porcaro died at the age of 38 at Humana Hospital-West Hills after spraying insecticide in the yard of his Hidden Hills home.
September, 1992 brought the album "Kingdom Of Desire", which did not chart in the US or the UK and failed to produce a hit single. Still reeling from the death of Jeff Porcaro, Toto very nearly packed it in, but was persuaded to carry on by Jeff's family. English drummer Simon Phillips, who had worked with Steve Lukather on a tour with The Jeff Beck Group and Santana, was enlisted to keep the beat. The live album, "Absolutely Live" was released in October, 1993, but it too missed the English and American charts and only reached the upper most spots in a handful of countries around the world. At the close of that year's tour, the band decided to take a break to pursue solo projects.
Regrouping in 1995, Toto released their ninth studio album, "Tambu" in June, 1996. As before, the LP did well in Japan and several European countries, but failed to chart in the US or the UK. It was a nominee for a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical in 1997, but did not take home the prize. The single, "I Will Remember" reached #64 in Great Britain, but did nothing stateside. Two other releases, "Drag Him To The Roof" and "The Turning Point" also flopped. The tour that followed was a success however, even though there were no North American dates. The following year marked Toto's twentieth year of existence and to celebrate the occasion they issued a collection of unreleased songs called "Toto XX" on April 1st, 1998. A solo track called "Goin' Home" was also released, but failed to chart. For the promotional tour that followed, the band was joined by former members Bobby Kimball, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams. When the trek came to a close, Bobby Kimball rejoined the band after a fourteen year absence. March, 1999 brought yet another album, "Mindfields", which followed a now well established pattern of making the Top 20 in Japan and six European countries, but missed the charts in America and England. The supporting tour also included shows in the United States for the first time in six years. Three singles from the "Mindfields" LP, "Melanie", "Cruel" and "Mad About You" did not crack the Hot 100. A 'live' album called "Livefields", recorded during that year's shows, hit store shelves in September.
Toto switched labels to Capitol and to commemorate the band's twenty-fifth anniversary they released "Through The Looking Glass", a covers album that honored some of the band's musical influences, such as Elton John, George Harrison, Bob Marley and Steely Dan. Two singles, Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and Marley's "Could You Be Loved" were issued to little attention. The LP did not go over well, even in the previously solid European markets. Even so, the band continued to be a successful 'live' act and toured in support of the album into 2003. In October of that year, the band released the slow selling "Live In Amsterdam" on the UK label Eagle Records. Near the end of the 25th Anniversary Tour, keyboard player David Paich took a temporary leave to attend to a sick family member. Greg Phillinganes filled in during his absence. Although Paich was able to appear at sporadic shows, Phillinganes was the one who performed at most of the venues throughout 2004 and 2005. Paich eventually retired from touring, although he continued to record and produce, and Phillinganes became a full-time member.
In mid-2007 Toto released yet another 'live' album, the two-disc "Falling In Between" for the Italian label, Frontiers. Although the disc contained new material, it made little difference to all but the most devoted fans and the CD only reached the upper regions of the charts in France, Germany and Holland. For that year's tour of Europe and the United States, Leland Sklar filled in on bass for Mike Porcaro due to a hand injury. Former members Fergie Frederiksen and Joseph Williams also made a few guest appearances. In June, 2008, Steve Lukather made an official announcement on his website site that he had left Toto permanently, citing a desire to launch a solo career. The statement said in part, 'Honestly, I have just had enough. This is not a break. It is over. I really can't go out and play "Hold The Line" with a straight face anymore.'
After a brief period of inactivity however, Toto regrouped in February, 2010 and launched a short, summer tour of Europe to benefit Mike Porcaro, who had been diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease where the nerve cells that control muscles die. The lineup featured David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro, Simon Phillips, Joseph Williams and Nathan East. The band hit the road again in the summer of 2011 with former backup singer Jenny Douglas joining once again. To mark their 35th anniversary, the band booked shows across Europe and North America in 2013 and Japan in 2014. Sadly, former vocalist Fergie Frederiksen died after a long battle with liver cancer on January 18th, 2014. The 'live' LP, "35th Anniversary - Live In Poland" was released in April, 2014, and rose to #6 in Germany. That same year, the band toured America, co-headlining with Michael McDonald. March, 2015 saw the release of Toto's first studio album in nine years, "Toto XIV", which was supported by a massive tour of Europe, Asia and North America. Unfortunately, bad news came their way on March 15th of that year when Mike Porcaro lost his battle with Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 59.
For 2016, Toto headed out on the road with shows booked in Europe and Japan, but this time without founding member David Hungate, who was replaced by Leland Sklar who had joined them on their 2007 and 2008 tours. For 2017, the band was slated for a heavy schedule of appearances across the United States and Europe with core members Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Joseph Williams joined by Lenny Castro (percussion), Shannon Forest (drums), Shem von Schroeck (bass) and Warren Ham (saxophone, vocals). Plans for 2018 included the re-release of the majority of the band's catalog for the limited edition box set "All In", a massive 13-CD, 17-LP collection that includes two discs of unreleased material.
For more, check out Gary James' interviews with Bobby Kimball and Steve Lukather.