‘I’ve got to do this one’: Steve Lukather took rare break from Toto to join the Beatles’ Ringo Starr

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For Steve Lukather, a confirmed Beatlemaniac, the invitation to join Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band was a no-brainer. But first, he had to break the news to everyone in Toto, the band he co-founded in the late 1970s.

A first-call sideman for decades, Lukather had nevertheless been the band’s stalwart member, the only one to have appeared on every album and at every concert. Over time, offers to join bands had followed from a number of musical legends — most notably Miles Davis’ — but Lukather had always held fast.

This, however, was different: A chance to tour with a childhood hero, and with an amazing band that included Gregg Rolie, the Rock and Roll of Fame co-founder of both Santana and Journey; Todd Rundgren, Richard Page of Mr. Mister and others.

[LUKATHER’S NEW ALBUM: Check out our thoughts on Steve Lukather’s newest solo project ‘Transition,’ a fiery, hard-rocking, emotional triumph, weeks before its street date of January 22, 2012.]

Problem: Toto was already planning an overlapping summer tour of its own.

Lukather remembers the moment when he had to break the bad news, in a new talk with Hawaii Public Radio — a journey that started with one his future bandmates in the All-Starr Band stopping by to catch a Toto show some time back.

“The guy that produces their show came with Greg Bissonette — who has been with Ringo’s All-Starrs probably longer than anybody else, as second drummer,” Lukather says. “He dragged Dave Hart, who is the agent and producer for all of Ringo’s stuff, to a Toto show in Paris — and they saw me play. They loved the band, and he said: ‘I’ve got to get you in Ringo’s band,’ and I’m like: ‘Anytime. Are you kidding me? I would be honored!'”

Who knew that when the call finally came, however, Toto would be otherwise engaged? Lukather had to politely bow out, despite his long-time commitment to a group largely made up of childhood friends.

“I called them and said ‘Guys, I’ve turned down Miles, I’ve turned down Joni Mitchell, I turned down Elton,” Lukather says, “but I can’t miss this one. I’ve got to do this one. I’ve got to have the summer.’ I’m the only guy that’s ever done every gig, from the first Toto rehearsal to the present day. No one’s ever filled in for me. (Fellow long-time Toto member David) Paich said: ‘You gotta do this; I understand.’ It was the best summer vacation I’ve ever had in my entire life. Ringo is a prince among mere mortals.”

Ringo Starr, Lukather and the rest of the newest All-Starr Band will be returning to the road next month for another series of shows:

Feb 7, 2013 – CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch, New Zealand
Feb 9 – Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand
Feb 11 – Brisbane – Convention Center
Feb 13 – Sydney – Horden Pavilion
Feb 16– Melbourne – Festival Hall
Feb 19 – Adelaide- Entertainment Centre
Feb 21 – Perth – Challenge Stadium
Feb 25 & 26 –Zepp Arena, Tokyo, Japan
Feb 27 – Zepp Hall, Nagoya, Japan
March 1 – Zepp Hall, Osaka, Japan

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