‘We’ve had our hands in a lot of what’s happened’: Steve Lukather on Toto’s sweeping impact as sidemen

In putting together promotional material for Toto’s 35th anniversary tour, which makes a rare swing through America beginning in August, Steve Lukather says their manager came upon a staggering number.

Members of Toto, past and present, have been a part of a staggering 8,000 albums — both under the Toto banner and as favored sidemen.

“I start laughing. I’m going: ‘This is ridiculous,’” Lukather says in this video interview. “But we’ve done a lot of stuff, and I don’t really think about it until it gets brought up. We’ve had our hands in a lot of what’s happened in popular music in the last several decades.”

Singer-songwriter David Paich has played a key role in a series of albums from Boz Scaggs, and has also Bryan Adams, Aretha Franklin and the Eagles’ Don Henley, among many others. Former bassist Lee Sklar (James Taylor, Phil Collins, Jackson Browne) and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (Stevie Wonder, Donald Fagen, Lionel Richie) have long been in-demand sidemen. The late drummer Jeff Porcaro played on literally hundreds of albums, from Steely Dan and Pink Floyd to Paul McCartney and Madonna. And Lukather himself has taken part in countless projects, from McCartney and Scaggs to Chicago, from Van Halen to Eric Clapton — and, perhaps most notably, on Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

“That’s every major star of the last 50 years, in every style of music — aside from classical,” Lukather says. “I didn’t even realize it — what our accomplishments have been over the last 35-plus years.”

Lukather, meanwhile, is set to join in select dates with Peter Frampton’s all-star Guitar Circus, which also includes appearances with Robert Cray, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Sonny Landreth and B.B. King. In between, Toto will stop for a pair of July dates in Canada.

Meaning, even after all that’s come before, Toto is still making musical connections: “It’s a great honor to have a legacy like that,” Lukather adds. “I can’t think of any band that does.”

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