Versatile musician, guitarist, vocalist, composer, producer and arranger Steve Lukather was born in Los Angeles on October 21 in 1957. Before his father bought him a guitar (a simple Kay acoustic) and a copy of Meet the Beatles at the age of seven, Luke started to play drums and keyboards. “I love keyboards, I write all my songs on keyboards except for the real obvious ‘burn’ tunes. I find it much easier, you have all these great synth sounds and you play a C chord and it’s sounds like God, and you start thinking melodies as opposed to chops.” (Lukather, 1986).
The guitar and the Beatles album changed the life of the young boy. “Just the sound of it overcame my whole soul, if you want to call it that. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I remember George Harrison played a solo in I saw her standing there and just the sound of the guitar bending and the reverb struck a nerve inside of me.” (Lukather, 1993).
In the years following Lukather taught himself how to play the guitar. He hung out with older friends who showed him how to play and how to set the chords. At high school he met the Porcaro brothers who were a couple of years older than him. Jeff Porcaro and David Paich were already doing session stuff. “I was selftaught until about 15 and then I started taking lessons with (classical/jazz/country player) Jimmy Wyble. He taught me how to read and I took a lot of other classes, like orchestration. I wanted to learn. At that point i was really intrigued by the whole session thing. It wasn’t something I wanted to do since I was a little kid. I didn’t know anything about it until I was in high school. I always thought it was kind of cool to be able to play on all these great artists’ records.” (Lukather, 1993).
During his high school period especially Jeff Porcaro turned out to be like a brother and mentor for Steve Lukather. “Jeff was like my mentor; he was a guy I looked up to. He and the whole Porcaro family had so much to do with my getting a break in the music business. Jeff was already in Steely Dan when I met him. That was 1972, and growing up in that whole environment was a gift. We learned the whole Katy lied Steely Dan record before it ever came out. In my high school band I was playing with Mike Landau, John Pierce, Steve Porcaro and Carlos Vega. Everybody else has since gone on to do really well. Growing up in that environment ...” (Lukather, 1993)
After playing and touring with Boz Scaggs, David Paich and Jeff Porcaro asked Steve Lukather, Bobby Kimball, David Hungate and Steve Porcaro in 1976 to join for their own band Toto. In the meantime David Paich, Jeff Porcaro and people like Jay Graydon involved Lukather more and more in the session business. In the late seventies and the eighties Lukather showed himself a first class and first called session musician, who played with everybody on the planet (check out the discography).
“Toto was Dave and Jeff’s band and vision. I was 19 and so honored to be invited in. You gotta dig, these guys were and still are my hero’s. I still can’t believe they chose me!!! It was my personal dream come true and that’s why I stepped up to the plate when someone had to. Paich and Jeff are soul brothers. I use that in the present tense because when Jeff died, so did our leader. Paich was the brains and tunesmith but Jeff was the spirit and soul. You can’t do one without the other. These guys had *IT*! THE thing that you can’t describe. It was like being with genius’, not in a pompous way at all, just the real shit. The real heart and soul of music. Critics will never understand just how real this band was and still is! Yeah, after 4 lead singers and me being with the band from day one, I picked up the ball and ran with it! Someone had to! I have NEVER been or will ever be the “leader” of Toto… No one guy is, but I will take the bull by the balls and try and keep this legacy alive.” (Lukather, 2005)
In September 1977 Toto released their first album Toto that generated the hit singles Hold the line, I’ll supply the love and Georgy Porgy. With the album David Paich and Steve Lukather started a more than 25 years Toto career. As the diagram in this website points out Lukather did some minor contributions to the songwriting in the first years of the Toto career. However his contributions increased by degrees. “I’ve been writing songs since I was a kid, but I kind of stopped writing when I joined Toto because Dave had all these incredible tunes. Every day he’d come in and say ‘Dig my new tune’ and when he played it, it would be a killer tune. To my ears anyway. But towards the second album, like the song Hydra, which was a group written tune and I came up with the riff parts. So it started with that album and on the third album I wrote three tunes and the fourth also had three or four tunes, and then gradually I’m writing more and more. And then there were a couple of hit records with other people, like with The Tubes I wrote Talk to ya later and She’s a beauty and also the Benson tune Turn your love around with Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin. So I started writing different weird things for other people and that made me a little more confident about my song writing. Then we started co-writing in the band a little bit more, and by the Toto IV album we were really writing a lot together.” (Lukather, 1986)