The Two Singers Who Nearly Lured Steve Lukather Away From Toto
While collaborating with artists like Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, Steve Lukather consistently worked with Toto throughout his career. But, on two different occasions, known figures in the music industry approached him with offers to join their respective bands instead.
In 1986, Toto and Miles Davis joined forces for the ‘Fahrenheit’ album, and Davis played trumpet on its track ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’ In a chat with The Last Miles, Lukather touched upon this collaboration, revealing what it brought along:
“I never thought he would actually listen to the record, but then I get a call from Tommy Lipuma saying, ‘Miles has just called me, and he wants me to call you because he wants you to play in his band.’ I go, ‘What!?’ I’m like: ‘F**k me, you’re kidding!’ Miles had obviously heard the record, and I guess he liked my crazy rock and roll s**t!
So he calls me and says: ‘Hey man, you wanna play in my band?’ I’m sitting on the phone freaking out as I had to say no as we were leaving in three days for a world tour. As much as a great honor and lesson it would have been for me in life and in music, I couldn’t let the guys down, so I had to say no.”
Recalling how he rejected the offer, he went on:
“I said: ‘Look, Miles, no one’s gonna believe that this ever happened, but I’m turning you down. [The band are] my brothers, who I’ve been with since high school; I can’t just leave them in the lurch for a full tour. He said, ‘I understand, that’s cool.’
And that was the last time I ever spoke to him. But then Lipuma calls me back and says, ‘Who should we get – have you got any suggestions?’ I suggested he should call either Mike Landau or Robben Ford. Robben got the call and the gig.”
While sharing that he and David Paich wrote the song specifically for Miles Davis, Lukather added ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ to his list of favorite collaborations during an interview with USA Today. In different chats, he also revealed that the late musician’s offer followed another one from Elton John.
Lukather joined John in 1981 to play guitar on his fifteenth studio album, ‘The Fox.’ But, before that, the guitarist had to turn down the singer’s suggestion to join his band, as he told Jeb Wright in 2013:
“I was just twenty-one the first time that we met. He wanted me to quit Toto and join his band. It was during the ‘Hydra’ record, and I just couldn’t do it. I got the call to go to France and play on his album. I remember Elton sitting on a piano bench and playing ‘Levon’ for me, just me and him. We were good friends up through the mid-80s, and then he got sober and went back to England. We did three or four records.”
The Toto member shared his views on Elton John by saying:
“I look back at his old records like ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,’ and they were just brilliant. The first four or five Elton John records were really part of the soundtrack of my life. He is such a brilliant artist. It was a great honor to be a part of that. He is very generous.”
About meeting his childhood idols, he added:
“I am really looking forward to seeing him next weekend. When I saw him last in Vegas, he just looked at me and started laughing and gave me a big hug. It was really nice. It is weird to be friends with your childhood heroes. Ringo [Starr] is sending me text messages telling me that we are going to hang. Ringo is my pal.”
Lukather joined Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band in 2012 and completed his latest tour with them in mid-October with a show in Thackerville, Oklahoma. He also released his latest solo album, ‘Bridges,’ in June and said it was ‘as close as we will get to a new Toto record.’
While he announced that there would be no more Toto studio material, the guitarist went on to perform live with the band after reuniting with the other members in 2020. Their next performance will take place in Antwerp, Belgium, on November 24.