Veteran Toto bringing rains of Africa to Red Rock Resort


If you were to play that “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game with Steve Lukather instead, “we wouldn’t get past two (degrees) my friend,” he says.

For instance, Lukather plays Red Rock Resort on Friday with Toto, the band that’s long been his primary focus. But he will be back in Las Vegas in November as part of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band.

“It’s almost surreal. I get texts from Ringo. If you told me that when I was a kid …”

Lukather’s guitar is heard on some of the tracks (“Beat It” and, along with his Toto mates, “Human Nature”) in “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay. Other recent or upcoming Las Vegas visitors he has worked with include Rod Stewart, Joe Satriani and Jeff Beck.

His bandmates in Toto also stay busy — keyboardist Steve Porcaro scores the FX drama “Justified” — but they keep summers clear for the pop-rock band that put them on the map with “Hold the Line” in 1978.

“I only thought we were going to do this for one summer in 2010, and now we’re talking about doing an album,” says Lukather, whose daughter Tina lives in Las Vegas.

“We legitimately love playing together,” Lukather says of the reunion with Porcaro, keyboardist David Paich, singer Joseph Williams and drummer Simon Phillips. Veteran jazz bassist Nathan East takes over for Mike Porcaro, who is battling ALS.

“We take care of our brother,” Lukather says of raising money both for Porcaro personally and for ALS-related causes. “We’re a family. We went to high school together. We’ve known each other for 40 years.”

Toto’s popularity always overshadowed its lack of critical respect, and Lukather agrees “Africa” from 1982 might be the oddest No. 1 hit ever.

“We never knew it was going to be like herpes,” he says of the song’s lingering popularity.

Like most veteran bands, Toto weathered its breakups and lineup changes over the years. But, he insists now, “We actually really do like each other. We’re not there just to pick up a check,” he says. “We’ve seen that act before. We’ve all seen that act. It’s bad. Pack it in.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

 

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