The Current

Great Music Lives Here ®
Listener-Supported Music
Donate Now

Interview: Steve Lukather of Toto talks about the enduring legacy of 'Africa'

Steve Lukather in Venice, 2014.
Steve Lukather in Venice, 2014.ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images
  Play Now [10:45]

by Jill Riley and Kayla Song

October 01, 2019

When they started playing music together as high school students in 1974, the members of iconic rock band Toto could not have predicted how long of a run they'd have. Their greatest hits album 40 Trips Around the Sun is proof of their enduring popularity, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Toto's debut album. As the band prepared to play the State Theatre in Minneapolis, vocalist and guitarist Steve Lukather told The Current's Jill Riley about the tour and the band's many years of fame.

"We had hoped, 'God, wouldn't it be great to maybe get eight to ten years like our heroes the Beatles?'" Lukather said, reminiscing about the band's birth. "Never in a billion years did we think we'd still be here 43 years later and enjoying the success that we are. We're very grateful for it and very surprised."

More specifically, Toto's song "Africa" is in the midst of a resurgence decades after its first recording back in 1981. "We recorded that in 1981 and we were just having fun producing a record," Lukather said. "We made the whole record before we ever heard the lyrics, so when Dave [Paich] brought in the lyrics we were like, 'What?' And we kind of cracked up and went, 'Well, okay.' We buried it as the last song on the album [Toto IV]. We had no idea it would be this massive record that would follow us around our whole careers."

The joy-sparking song resurfaced in May 2018 with a Weezer cover that brought Toto back into the spotlight. The song's renewed popularity has returned Toto to the spotlight, earning them opportunities like TV show appearances. Lukather told Riley that he is particularly excited about Toto becoming characters on the show Family Guy. "It's the greatest moment in my life because I'm such a huge Family Guy fan," Lukather said.

Lukather doesn't mind the "Africa" memes and parodies — he said that Toto is flattered by the song's enduring popularity. "We laughed harder than anybody about the parodies," said Lukather. "We have a great sense of humor about it and nobody one is more surprised about this than us."

Needless to say, the band have had their hands full for the past few years, touring 40 Trips Around the Sun. After their tour, which ends in mid-October, Lukather says the band will take a breather from rocking.

"We're giving it all we got: a lot of energy, a lot of joy on stage. We're just going to see it out through to October 20th and take a break for the foreseeable future right now," Lukather said. "We've been working awfully hard these past ten years."

While Toto may be taking a break for a bit, their tour will live on in a new concert film. 40 Tours Around the Sun features footage from the band's concert at Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome on March 17, 2018. 40 Tours Around the Sun will be out Nov. 15 on DVD and BluRay.