Greatness in Bulgaria and Macedonia: Toto to hit Sofia and Skopje stages in March

Written by on August 24, 2017 in Leisure - Comments Off on Greatness in Bulgaria and Macedonia: Toto to hit Sofia and Skopje stages in March

There are Pop bands and Pop bands. Some appear for 15 minutes, because of one hit. Others are omnipresent, because of truckloads of hits they deliver, because they are convincing from the start, because they revolutionise Pop music, and because they even have successful “side products”. Toto does belong into the latter category. In March of 2018, they will be in Bulgaria and Macedonia.

But let’s start at the beginning. Long before “Africa” or “Rosanna”, in 1977, David Paich, a keyboarder and vocalist who is still with Toto today, teamed up with a genius drummer, the late Jeff Porcaro, in Los Angeles. They were session musicians for other bands and eager to do their own thing. They hired additional members, such as bass player David Hungate, guitarist Steve Lukather, Jeff’s brother Steve Porcaro, a keyboarder, and vocalist Bobby Kimball.

They called themselves Toto and became active in the AOR (Adult-Oriented Rock) era. The times of the kind of “dry Rock’n’Roll” other bands had delivered, such as The Rolling Stones, were partially over. Toto’s Pop-Rock-Funk approach was “juicy”. It consisted of elements which they invented and introduced. Apart from this new blend they came up with, the brilliant drumming style Jeff Porcaro was known for fascinated the rapidly growing fan base. He delivered precision, loads of energy and an approach which included breathtaking off-beats and Funk rhythms. Those powered up the Pop music Toto would be known for all over the planet.

Their first, self-titled album made landfall in October of 1978. “Toto”, the album, was stunning, during a time when brilliance still counted more than silicone. It sold as if there had been no tomorrow. Toto’s first big hit “Hold the Line” was included, “I’ll Supply the Love”, another funky Pop hit, and “Takin’ It Back”, one of the most fascinating ballads from the entire AOR era. But there was even more: “Georgy Porgy”, a tune written by David Paich, became a big hit in both the world of Pop and Rock, as well as the R&B world. This one even hit the R&B charts. Soul singer Cheryl Lynn provided the vocals for the album version, in cooperation with Steve Lukather.

Toto in 1979.

In 1979, “Hydra” was released. This one may not have been the kind of bestseller the first album was from the start, but it became one of the most important albums in Pop and Rock history. It tells mystical stories, while enhancing the musical quality Toto was already known for even further. The partially “rocky” title track fascinates with the kind of precise rhythms and off-beats which were usually part of tunes pure Funk bands came up with, during the same times. “99”, a romantic ballad, garnished with Funk elements as well, is another unforgettable tune from the “Hydra” album.

The Toto style and quality spread further, also because the band produced and recorded albums for fellow artists, such as vocalist Boz Scaggs. His hits “Jojo” and “Lowndown” would never have sounded the way they did without Jeff Porcaro’s revolutionary drumming style, or without Toto.

“Turn Back”, Toto’s third album, was not that successful. It sold only 1 million copies. At least to heretics it seemed like they were running out of ideas. But shortly after it became clear that the critics could not have been more wrong.

It was in 1982, when the album “Toto IV” hit the record stores. Not only did this one sell twice as well as all their other records combined, but it included big radio hits, like “Africa” and “Rosanna”. From this album onward, the off-beats and funky elements were not that prominent anymore, unfortunately, but Toto were now superstars around the globe and one of the most important Pop and Rock bands of all time. Period.

Tragedy struck the band twice. On August 5th, 1992, Jeff Porcaro suddenly died. The coroner in Los Angeles said Jeff’s cocaine use was to blame. The band disputed that version, and still does today. Just before he died, at age 38, Jeff Porcaro had sprayed chemicals in his garden and likely triggered an allergic reaction. On top of that, there is a history of heart problems in his family, which led to more early deaths. Jeff Porcaro, a driving force in the band, and a brilliant drummer, was no longer there, all of a sudden. This loss hit Toto hard.

Jeff’s brother Michael Porcaro, the bass player, died recently, in 2015, of ALS. He had left the band when he was diagnosed in 2007. Steve Porcaro, the third brother, is alive, and still a member of the band.

All in all, Toto recorded thirteen albums, while the fourteenth one is just around the corner. That one will mark the band’s 40th anniversary. For two years, from 2008 to 2010, Toto was dismantled. Apart from that, the band has been active ever since, including today.

Right now, in August and September of 2017, Toto are touring all over the United States. In February, they will start their European tour, which will take them absolutely everywhere: Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany (six concerts), Poland, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and yes, Bulgaria and Macedonia.

The Bulgarian concert will take place on March 4, 2018, at 8 p.m., at hall no. 1 of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. Tickets are available here. The price range: 60 to 120 Leva.

In Skopje (Macedonia), Toto will hit the stage on March 5, 2018, at 8 p.m., at the Boris Trajkovski venue. Tickets will be on sale here shortly.

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.