It’s high time this sensational band made an appearance on the Artists in Focus blog. Toto is full of incredibly talented musicians, but there’s one in particular we want to talk about this week. Stay tuned to see who that is…

LA, 1977

It was in 1977 Los Angeles that Toto first came to be. David Paich and Jeff Porcaro had played together as session musicians so many times that they thought it would be a cool idea to form a band, and thus, Toto was born.

With an ever-evolving line-up of talent, Toto saw some major success during the late 70s and 80s, and in fact, quickly became one of the best-selling groups of their era! We all know tunes like “Hold the Line”, “Rosanna” and, of course, “Africa”.

Their style was pretty hard to pin down at times. They have a unique sound which takes elements from so many musical styles, including pop, rock, soul, funk, prog, blues, jazz, R&B… You name it, Toto gave it a go.

14 studio albums, 40 million records sold and a few Grammys later, and Toto are still a well-loved band to this day. There are even plans for a Toto tour throughout 2022!

Jeff Porcaro

But, as we mentioned earlier, there’s one member of Toto that we want to put the spotlight on this week, and that’s drumming legend, Jeff Porcaro. It’s hard to sum up Porcaro’s contribution to drumming throughout his career, but many have tried, saying that the sound of mainstream pop and rock was largely down to this man – now that is quite the compliment!

Whilst Porcaro is best known for his work with Toto (alongside his brothers, Mike and Steve Porcaro!), he is easily one of the most recorded session musicians in history. We’re talking hundreds of albums and thousands of sessions that Jeff Porcaro was a part of. It was his role on the Steely Dan album, Katy Lied, which really shot him to fame.

Porcaro had started playing the drums at the age of 7, and by the age of 17 was landing his first professional gig playing in the touring band for Sonny & Cher. We know there are so many young Rockschool drummers out there just waiting for their moment to become the next Jeff Porcaro! If that’s you, we’ve got a place for you to start. “Hold the Line” features in the Rockschool Drums Grade 5 syllabus, so get your hands on it today!

Half-Time Shuffle Groove!

And we’re almost certain that the drummers of the world will know all about Porcaro’s famous drum pattern which can be heard in “Rosanna”. Think of Bernard Purdie’s “Purdie Shuffle”, mix it with John Bonham’s “Fool in the Rain” groove, and you’ve got yourself Jeff Porcaro’s “Half-Time Shuffle Groove”. Can you play it? We’d love to know!

Throughout his career, Porcaro worked with the best-of-the-best of the music industry. Think George Benson, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Dire Straits, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, Earth, Wind & Fire, Madonna… If you can believe it, the list really does go on! LEGENDS ONLY.

Tragically, Jeff Porcaro died at the young age of 38, the cause of which is somewhat complicated. It’s hard to imagine what he would have achieved if he were still alive today. No doubt, we’d have heard so many more mind-blowing beats year on year.

If you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about this drumming-hero (and fantastic band!), there are so many more to learn about on the Artists in Focus blog. We’ve covered Billy Cobham, Van Halen and the Queen to name a few!