This is a big year for Toto, the 40th anniversary for the band, and the group is making sure fans get a chance to share the moment.
Earlier this year, the group released a best-of album, “40 Trips Around The Sun,” that included the hits, album tracks and more. The band will perform Nov. 1 at the Charleston Music Hall.
Coming soon, too, is a box set, “All In." It includes Toto’s first 10 studio albums on vinyl and CD, a hardcover book on the group’s history, a Blu-Ray of a 1990 Paris concert, a disc of 10 vintage unreleased songs (including three that are included on “40 Trips Around The Sun”) that were rediscovered and finished with newly recorded parts. Part of the process of putting this limited-edition set together involved a remastering of the original Toto albums, which gave the band members a first-time experience for their career.
“We went back to the early days and we did it in a way, we did it from the first track onward,” guitarist Steve Lukather recalled during a recent phone interview. “We sat in a room for a week and we told stories. We laughed, we cried, we ... went through the whole trip, through our whole lives.”
While Toto enjoyed a string of platinum-selling albums (and hit singles like “Hold The Line,” “Rosanna” and “Africa”), the group also had its share of rough patches. Specifically, in 1992, band member Jeff Porcaro died of heart failure while doing yard work. In 2007, Mike Porcaro was forced out of music by ALS disease. There were also personnel changes (including four different vocalists), and from 2005-07, David Paich did only a handful of performances while he dealt with family issues. (Paich is also missing the U.S. leg of the 40th anniversary tour because of a health issue — “nothing serious, but he’s got to deal with it and then he’ll be right back,” Lukather said.)
And there was a point, in early 2008, when Lukather disbanded Toto.
“It just wasn’t Toto anymore,” Lukather explained. “There was nobody on the stage but me that was in the band when we started the band. We just became a really great cover band.”
That might have closed the book on Toto right there. But it was Porcaro’s ALS diagnosis that gave the band new life. In 2010, Paich called Lukather, telling him he needed money for medical expenses. That's when the group reunited for a European tour to raise money for Porcaro, who sadly succumbed to his disease in 2015.
“We were just going to do one tour and that was going to be it,” Lukather said. “But we had so much fun and the reaction was so positive, we said ‘Well, do you want to do it again next year?’ So we sort of gently jumped back on the horse again, if you will, and it started to take on a whole new life and we were really enjoying playing together, so there was no reason not to do that.”
Toto has been on an upswing ever since. In 2014, Toto released a concert DVD/CD set, “Live In Poland,” to considerable popularity worldwide, followed In 2015 by a well-received new studio album, “Toto XIV.” In 2016, a vintage show, “Live at Montreux 1991,” was released on DVD.
Now comes the 40th anniversary celebration, which has already included an extensive run through Europe. Lukather said Toto will play a generous two-hour set.
“We do stuff from all the records. We do the hits people want to hear,” he said. “But we also do some stuff, we try to take a ride through the whole career without it being boring to people. We do songs where (people go) ‘I didn’t realize you guys did that song.’ We get that a lot from people that just know, the casual fans that think ‘Oh, it’s the ‘Africa’ band. But we have a lot more hits than that.”