What would possess a group to name itself after the dog in "The Wizard of Oz?" Actually, one story claims the tag was a shortened version of singer Bobby Kimball's original surname (Toteaux). But if that doesn't work, there's guitarist Steve Lukather's explanation. "North Bengal is the land where the primitive Toto tribe holds its last stand - refusing to be swamped by mainstream civilization. Toto have their home in the village of Totopara. Their customs and culture have been the subject of great anthropological interest. I happened to hear the Toto tribe story from one of my high school teachers. I was like "Wow," cause my heart was always open for sentimental stories. The idea of our band being discovered and described in a hundred years like they did with the tribe, really cracks me up!" Well, stranger things have happened.
Toto is the story of high school buddies who grew up to be top L.A. session musicians. They decided to join forces while working on Boz Scaggs' "Silk Degrees" album. The band originally consisted of Kimball, Lukather, David Paich (keyboards/vocals), his brother Jeff (drums), Steve Porcaro (keyboards) and David Hungate (bass). Opening with "Hold The Line," a hot Rocker, they soon fell into the MOR/pop morass. They sold millions of albums and won way too many Grammy Awards (where mainstream popularity always trumps artistic merit).
Just days after bassist Mike Porcaro, in the group from '82 to '08, died at age 59 following a battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), "Toto XIV" was released. The '15 set featured vocalist Joseph Williams, founding member Steve Pocaro, and, for the first time in 30 years, original bassist David Hungate.
1981 Turn Back
1982 Toto IV
1988 The Seventh One
1992 Kingdom Of Desire
2002 Through The Looking Glass
2006 Falling In Between
2015 Toto XIV
"Toto IV" is the group's biggest selling album. It's the one that led to all the Grammy statues. But with the exception of "Rosanna" and "Make Believe," mid-tempo pop and ballads dominate - though "Africa" is pretty catchy. The self-titled debut with "Hold The Line" places the group in the most favorable light. The formula is still fresh. "Past To Present 1977-1990" covers too much ground. The group's "prime" was '78 to the early '80s.