In the musical cosmos of 1978, Van Halen burst onto the scene, etching the beginning of a remarkable career that resonated not only in millions of records sold globally but also as a profound influence on musicians for years to come. The driving force behind the Pasadena-formed group was none other than the virtuoso guitarist Eddie Van Halen, whose mastery of the guitar became legendary.
Eddie, until his untimely departure in 2020 at the age of 65, frequently shared his thoughts on fellow artists and bands, maintaining a connection with his peers. In one such revelation, he singled out Toto, a band close to his heart due to his friendship with guitarist Steve Lukather. The spotlight fell on Toto’s 1992 album, “Kingdom of Desire,” during an interview with Guitar FTPM magazine in 1993. Lukather and Eddie engaged in a unique interview format, discussing Toto’s work.
Eddie praised “Kingdom of Desire” as a brilliant record, expressing his belief that if given radio play, people would appreciate its musical depth. In his words, “The music you’re making, to me, is light years beyond the stuff you hear on the radio. If people only knew you guys were the real deal. Everyone else is faking it.”
“Kingdom of Desire” marked Toto’s eighth studio album and a significant milestone as the first to feature the late drummer Jeff Porcaro. Lukather assumed lead vocals in all tracks, contributing to the band’s evolving sound. The lineup included David Paich (Piano, organ, synthesizers), Mike Porcaro (Bass), and Jeff Porcaro (Drums), with guest appearances by musicians like Steve Porcaro, Jim Keltner, Joe Porcaro, John Fogerty, and Billy Sherwood.
The camaraderie between Eddie and Lukather had deep roots, originating from their chance encounter at a festival in 1978 where both Van Halen and Toto shared the stage. Their friendship blossomed over the years, with visits to each other’s studios during recording sessions. Eddie, in his characteristic fashion, often previewed Van Halen tracks to Lukather before they were officially recorded. A standout memory for Lukather was the moment Eddie revealed the keyboard riff for the iconic “Jump.”
Reflecting on Eddie’s legacy in a 2021 interview, Lukather expressed the deep void left by his dear friend. Recalling their 40-year friendship, Lukather emphasized the genuine connection they shared.
Amidst their camaraderie, Lukather humorously recalled a moment tied to the recording of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” featuring Eddie’s memorable guitar solo. Lukather playfully teased Eddie about becoming a studio musician, prompting Eddie to reveal that his brother Alex was quite displeased at the time since they were not supposed to record with other artists.
The musical journey intertwined the tales of two legendary bands, forging connections and memories that endure in the hearts of fans and fellow musicians alike.