Toto Lineup Changes: A Complete Guide
Toto were an immediate success story from the moment the strains of their first single, "Hold the Line," hit the airwaves in 1978. They went on to a string of multi-platinum albums and Top 40 hits, but had to deal with constant change behind the scenes. Of course, a lot of bands face personnel changes, but Toto have been through more than many and faced a number of gut-wrenching personal tragedies along the way. Here's a look back at all the major comings and goings they've seen over the years.
1977-82: David Paich / Jeff Porcaro / David Hungate / Steve Lukather / Steve Porcaro / Bobby Kimball
Most high school bands don't go anywhere, but Rural Still Life, which gigged around Grant High in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley in the early '70s, is a notable exception: Drummer Jeff Porcaro, keyboard players David Paich and Steve Porcaro, and guitarist Steve Lukather all went on to help form the nucleus of Toto's original lineup, along with session vet David Hungate (who played with Paich and Jeff Porcaro on Boz Scaggs' Silk Degrees album) on bass and vocalist Bobby Kimball. The group found immediate success with their self-titled debut album, but things really exploded – in more ways than one – after the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning Toto IV in 1982.
1983-84: David Paich / Jeff Porcaro / Steve Lukather / Steve Porcaro / Bobby Kimball / Mike Porcaro
As soon as the basic tracks for Toto IV were completed, Hungate abruptly quit and moved to Nashville. He was quickly replaced by Mike Porcaro, who joined the band in time for the album's videos and tour, but they'd soon have to replace an even more distinctive component of what had become a very successful sound.
1984-85: David Paich / Jeff Porcaro / Steve Lukather / Steve Porcaro / Mike Porcaro / Fergie Frederiksen
Coming off the biggest record of their career, Toto faced the difficult prospect of putting together a follow-up – a question that became even tougher to answer when Bobby Kimball's struggles with some bad habits caught up with him in the months leading up to the sessions for 1984's Isolation. Stuck for a new singer, the band brought in former Le Roux vocalist Fergie Frederiksen. Unfortunately, Toto's new sound failed to catch on, either on the charts or behind the scenes, and it was soon time to make yet another change.
1986-88: David Paich / Jeff Porcaro / Steve Lukather / Steve Porcaro / Mike Porcaro / Joseph Williams
On the hunt for another new singer after Frederiksen's exit following the Isolation tour, the band turned to another childhood friend, Joseph Williams. Williams' elastic tenor, songwriting skill and stage presence complemented Toto perfectly, and although his two records as the group's frontman (1986's Fahrenheit and 1988's The Seventh One) didn't match the success of Toto IV, things were finally stable again ... for a while, anyway. Steve Porcaro exited as a full-time member following Fahrenheit, although he remained in the wings as a guest on subsequent albums. His absence had an effect on the group's music, then they were thrown for another loop when Williams' own bad habits caught up with him on the Seventh One tour, preventing him from being able to perform consistently and resulting in yet another change at the lead singer position.
1990: David Paich / Jeff Porcaro / Steve Lukather / Mike Porcaro / Jean-Michel Byron
Unsure of what to do next, Toto decided to regroup with a greatest-hits record, and when it came time to record a few new songs for the compilation, they yielded to the record company's advice and added South African singer Jean-Michel Byron to the lineup. Although the resulting release, Past to Present 1977-1990, sold well, Byron's more flamboyant style didn't mesh with the rest of the group, and by the end of the tour to support the record, he'd been relegated to more of a background role – then let go completely.
1991-92: David Paich / Jeff Porcaro / Steve Lukather / Mike Porcaro
Unwilling to add yet another lead singer to the mix, Toto decided to carry on as a four-piece for 1992's Kingdom of Desire record, taking things back to basics for a set of harder-edged songs that they all wrote together. Sadly, before they could go on the road to promote the album, Jeff Porcaro passed away, the victim of a heart attack.
1992-97: David Paich / Steve Lukather / Mike Porcaro / Simon Phillips
Faced with touring obligations and a crew to support, the surviving members of Toto made the difficult decision to carry on in the wake of Jeff Porcaro's death, bringing in session vet Simon Phillips to hold down the bottom end for their Kingdom of Desire dates in 1992 and '93. The combination worked so well that they decided to go on, keeping Lukather behind the mic full-time for 1995's Tambu LP.
1998-2003: David Paich / Steve Lukather / Mike Porcaro / Simon Phillips / Bobby Kimball
While assembling some odds and ends for 1998's Toto XX collection, the band decided to reach out to Kimball and Williams and bring them back into the fold for some promotional dates – a combination that worked well enough to prompt Kimball's full-time return for 1999's Mindfields record. With the classic Toto sound largely intact for the first time in 15 years, it looked like the band had come full circle.
2003-08: David Paich / Steve Lukather / Mike Porcaro / Simon Phillips / Bobby Kimball
For a time, Kimball's reunion with Toto seemed to stick; the band released a pair of albums (2003's covers set Through the Looking Glass and 2006's Falling in Between), ventured out on a series of tours and projected an air of unity. But behind the scenes, trouble was brewing again: Paich's reluctance to tour and Mike Porcaro's tragic diagnosis with Lou Gehrig's disease meant that the band's live lineup slowly became more of a rotating cast than a real band. (Bassists subbing for Porcaro included Greg Phillinganes and Leland Sklar.) Lukather's growing feeling that Toto were no longer Toto finally led him to pull the plug in 2008.
2010-19: David Paich / Steve Lukather / Joseph Williams / Steve Porcaro
It looked like Toto might be done for good after their dissolution in 2008. Then Paich called Lukather in 2010, reaching out to broach the subject of a short tour to help raise money for Mike Porcaro and his family. Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams returned to their old spots, and Toto hit the road once more – then remained there for almost a decade. Drummers included Simon Phillips (2010-14), Keith Carlock (2014-15) and Shannon Forrest (2015-19). Bassists were Nathan East (2010-14); the returning Hungate (2014-15) and Sklar (2016-17); and finally Shem von Schroeck (2017-19). Toto eventually fell apart again amid a health setback for Paich and the weight of new legal action. Dominique "Xavier" Taplin was a late-period fill-in on keyboards.
2020-Present: Steve Lukather / Joseph Williams / David Paich / Steve Maggiora / John Pierce / Robert Searight / Dominique “Xavier” Taplin
Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams revealed another lineup of Toto in 2020, announcing a pandemic-era livestream concert to showcase the new members – as well as two solo albums that also included Paich. Bassist Pierce had earlier collaborated with Huey Lewis, while keyboardist Taplin previously worked with Prince. Lukather said they'd be joined on stage by multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Warren Ham (who'd most recently worked with Lukather in Ringo Starr's band) and also occasionally by Paich, who remained Toto's musical director. "It's his band," Lukather said. "He started it."