Toto’s Steve Lukather Credits George Harrison With Inspiring Him to Play Guitar
Steve Lukather's music career spans most of his life, but he can still remember the exact moment he was inspired to pick up a guitar.
The Toto guitarist recently spoke with Music Radar in an interview timed to promote the band's new Toto XIV, and when he was asked to identify a "breakthrough moment" in his love affair with music, his response was immediate.
"Oh, that's easy," said Lukather. "George Harrison, 'I Saw Her Standing There.' Off the Beatles' first album. That was the one where I said, 'I want to be that guy.' The sound of that to a kid who was seven or eight – by today's standards, it's tame, but at the time there was nothing like it. That just ripped into my soul. That touched me deeply, and I was able to tell George that because we became friends later in life."
These days, Lukather's no longer a starstruck kid — and times have changed not only for him, but for the many incredible musicians who now make up part of his peer group. He laughed about the way clean living has become a priority for his generation after the legendary excess of the '70s and '80s, counting himself lucky to have survived and pointing out, "Rock 'n' roll can suck you in and spit you out. Try going on the road for 40 years for 200 days a year. It's a mind-f---."
"I was doing a charity event last Monday night, and it was like Billy Gibbons, Slash, [Richie] Sambora, Orianthi, myself, and we're standing there with all these guys and I'm looking around and nobody's drinking at all and there's no partying," he mused. "We're all going, 'Yep, we used to be carried out of every place we went and now we're all back to having a water and everybody talking very softly and mature.' Still having a lot of laughs, though."
Even if he rubs shoulders with Grammy winners and Rock Hall inductees, Lukather hasn't forgotten what it's like to be a young musician, and he closed out the conversation with a few words of advice for anyone who's starting out.
"Don't be afraid to make mistakes, because any great player will tell you that any night they'll make mistakes," he urged. "Whenever you do a live recording, it's always the s---tiest night, and you have to wince through it for the rest of your life and then you go, 'F---! Why did I s--- the bed, man? We were recording!' And you gotta go, 'Nobody's perfect' — and we all feel that way. Ask any musician."
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