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May 252015
 

Jeff PorcaroAugust 5, 1992 – Jeffrey Thomas “Jeff” Porcaro was born on April 1, 1954. He was not only a founding member of the hugely popular band “Toto”, he was also a highly sought after session drummer, by many regarded as the most in demand studio drummer in rock from the mid-’70s to the early ’90s. He has worked on hundreds of the most successful albums from that era and contributed to thousands of sessions.

At age 17 he became the drummer for Sonny and Cher’s Touring Band at the height of their popularity. He toured with Boz Scaggs and recorded with Steely Dan before he and his brothers, together with Steve Lukather and David Paich formed.

Porcaro was one of the most recorded session musicians in history, working on hundreds of albums and thousands of sessions.Even while with Toto, he was still a highly sought after session musician. He collaborated with many of the biggest names in the music business, including Boz Scaggs, Paul McCartney, Dire Straits, Donald Fagen, Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones, Michael Jackson, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Joe Walsh, Joe Cocker, Stan Getz, Sérgio Mendes, Lee Ritenour, Christopher Cross, James Newton-Howard, Jim Messina, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Eric Carmen, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Larry Carlton, Michael McDonald, Seals & Crofts, and David Gilmour.

Porcaro had contributed drums to four tracks on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, as well as played on the Dangerous album hit “Heal the World”. He also played on 10cc’s …Meanwhile (1992).

He died unexpectedly at home on August 5, 1995.The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office listed the cause of death to be a heart attack from atherosclerosis induced by cocaine use, not from an allergic reaction to the pesticides as presumed immediately after his death and stated by Toto in the band’s official history. The official cause of death reported by the coroner has long been the subject of intense debate, with Porcaro’s family, friends, and Toto bandmates claiming that while he did occasionally use cocaine, he was by no means a heavy drug user nor was he an addict. Most of the people that knew him state that the coroner’s report is wrong, and that he died of a combination of undiagnosed heart disease and organophosphate poisoning caused by the insecticide he was spraying on the day he died.

In a podcast recorded with I’d Hit That in late 2013, Steve Lukather spoke about Jeff Porcaro’s death:

Steve Lukather: I spoke to him the day he passed…he said, ‘yeah, man I’ll see you this weekend and we’ll have a BBQ at the house and we’ll go clean up the yard’…and that’s when he got poison on himself and it turns out he had a bad heart anyway. He had two uncles that died when they were 40 years old from heart disease so it was genetic…this whole drug thing that came out its so insidious, and I hate the fucking fact cause he was never the bad drug guy…he’d be the guy going “what are guys staying up all night, you idiots”…in the early ’80s and late ’70s early ’80s it was crazy man, we’re not gonna deny any of it, but by the time he passed it was never, I don’t know, people just love to roam the dirty laundry as Henley wrote you know…and you read these Wikipedia shit, that’s right there, it’s like does anybody ever do homework on these facts…he just had a genetic predisposition…this whole thing with his arms hurting and all this, he was always, ‘my arms, my muscles’, it wasn’t his muscles, it was the fact that the blood was not getting to the extremities, he had hardening of the arteries at 38 years old.

Interviewer: How long was he complaining of the pain in the arms?

Steve Lukather: Years, it was debilitating to the point where touring became difficult for him.

A memorial concert took place at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on December 14, 1992 with an all-star lineup that included Boz Scaggs, Donald Fagen, Don Henley, Michael McDonald, David Crosby, Eddie Van Halen, and the members of Toto. The proceeds of the concert were used to establish an educational trust fund for Porcaro’s sons.

Porcaro’s tombstone is inscribed with the following epitaph, comprised by lyrics from Kingdom of Desire track “Wings of Time”: “Our love doesn’t end here; it lives forever, on the Wings of Time.”