Steve Lukather reminisced about a challenging experience from Toto’s early days when they were opening for the legendary rock band Rush.
Being an opening act has its pros and cons; you get exposure to a massive audience, but most of them are more interested in the headliner. Lukather, Toto’s guitarist, believes that being an opener was even tougher back in the day.
In a recent conversation on the “The French Connection” podcast with Jay Jay French, the former Twisted Sister guitarist and manager, Lukather shared a rather unpleasant encounter with Rush during one of Toto’s early career shows. He described how they intended to rock the stage but were seemingly pigeonholed into the “p***y band” category by Rush. Toto was gaining traction in rock radio and shows when they got the opportunity to open for Rush, but things took an unexpected turn. Rush abruptly cut their performance short, literally pulling the plug on them.
Lukather recalled the strange moment, saying, “It was fcking weird. I get it, but it was like being the opening band and treated as such; I’ll put it that way. That was back in the ’70s. If you were the opening act, the headliner could fck you. Number two lights or something else. I think we had innocently gone like thirty seconds, and all I heard was Jeff [Porcaro] playing drums and Lenny [Castro] playing percussion.”
While the dynamics between headlining acts and openers have improved over the years, Lukather also commented on some not-so-positive changes in the music industry. He believes that the industry has regressed in some aspects, where good songwriting alone doesn’t hold the same weight as it once did.
According to Lukather, the current music landscape makes it challenging for young artists to break through. In the past, a hit single could launch a career, but now, it’s all about having a massive following on platforms like Instagram.
Lukather questioned the role of record companies in this new paradigm, where even a masterpiece like “Sgt. Pepper’s” might go unnoticed if you lack a substantial online following. It’s a different world, and in some ways, it seems like a step backward for the music industry.