TOTO - Official Website - Band History

In 1976, drummer Jeff Porcaro and keyboardist David Paich, two seasoned L.A. session musicians renowned for their work with => Steely Dan and => Boz Scaggs, decided to trim back their session work and form a band of their own. Jeff and David brought in guitarist Steve Lukather and keyboardist Steve Porcaro, both of whom had played with Jeff and David in high school. David Hungate, another acclaimed studio musician, shared many of the same sessions with Jeff and David, and they felt that Hungate was a perfect fit on bass. In order to produce the depth of vocal harmonies and breadth of musicianship the live performance of their material would require, Bobby Kimball, a singer from Louisiana, was brought in on lead vocals.
After the band’s formation, David Paich set about writing what became the eponymous debut album. Once written, the new band came together in the studio to cut its first demos. Having just recently watched The Wizard of Oz, Jeff Porcaro began to write the word "toto" on the demo tapes so that they would be easily identifiable. When the time came to choose a name for the band, the band explored the roots of the word "toto" more thoroughly. David Hungate explained to them that, in Latin, the word "toto" means "total" or "all-encompassing," and given this group's long list of studio accolades and their collective ability to play in any given situation, the name TOTO was chosen as the official title of the new record and the band name. "It's representative of our music," said Jeff Porcaro. "Mishmash. A goulash."

Upon its release in September, 1977, TOTO spawned the single hit, => "Hold the Line," which rapidly climbed the => charts. Followed by two more hit singles, "I’ll Supply the Love" and => "Georgy Porgy," the record set new standards in pop and rock music at the time and earned them a Grammy nomination in 1978 for Best New Artist.

Lukather and Kimball recall that TOTO’s opening year passed like a whirlwind, but they still remember the first time they heard themselves on the radio. "I was asleep," says Kimball. "I had set my alarm for early because we were going to do some promo in the studio that day, and when it came on, there was ‘Hold the Line.’ I phoned Paich and screamed into the phone, and he was screaming and stumbling around in the dark trying to turn his radio on. " Lukather recalls, "I remember one of the guys called me. I actually sat there in my first house by myself, a little tear in my eye. I mean, wow. We were on the radio in L.A. It was a great feeling."

In 1979, TOTO released their second record, Hydra. A bit of a harder edge than TOTO’s first record, Hydra features one of TOTO’s biggest hits, => "99", a song inspired by the George Lucas movie THX-1138 about a society where people were given numbers instead of names. In point of fact, music video of "99" features the band in an all-white room dressed in white, a set piece designed around Lucas’ visionary film.

Following the release of Hydra, TOTO turned their musical talents in a new direction, and in 1981 their third record, Turn Back, was released. The band had recorded a much harder-edged album than either of the previous two releases, but unfortunately it did not achieve the radio-play the band wanted.