Steve Porcaro

Steven Maxwell Porcaro (born September 2, 1957) is an American keyboardist, songwriter, singer, and film composer, known as one of the founding members of the rock band Toto[1] and the last surviving Porcaro brother (after the deaths of Jeff in 1992 and Mike in 2015); as the songwriter of "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson and songs by Toto; and as the composer of the TV series Justified. He has won three Grammys, including Record of the Year for "Rosanna" and Album of the Year for Toto IV, and three nominations.[2]

Steve Porcaro
Porcaro in 2013
Porcaro in 2013
Background information
Birth nameSteven Maxwell Porcaro
Born (1957-09-02) September 2, 1957 (age 65)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
GenresPop, rock
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, film composer
InstrumentsKeyboards, vocals
Years active1976–present
Formerly ofToto, The Chris Squire Experiment

Porcaro has appeared as a session musician on recordings by Yes (on Union and Open Your Eyes) and Jefferson Airplane (on their self-titled 1989 reunion album). He was also a member of Chris Squire's short-lived band, The Chris Squire Experiment, in 1992.

Early lifeEdit

Porcaro is a native of Connecticut. Just like his brothers Jeff and Mike, Steve Porcaro started out as a drummer under the tutelage of his father Joe Porcaro, before taking up piano. In 1967, his father bought him an organ made by Rheem, a company that specializes in heating and air conditioning. Soon after, he took his father down to a Guitar Center to trade in the keyboard for a Farfisa with a Leslie 147 and preamp, which Porcaro called his "first real rig".[3][failed verification]


Porcaro's touring career began playing with Gary Wright during his tour in 1977, supporting the latter's The Dream Weaver album. Porcaro and the other original members of Toto then played with Boz Scaggs before forming Toto.[4]

Porcaro wrote or co-wrote at least one song on each of Toto's first six albums, with the exception of Isolation. His two older brothers Mike and Jeff were Toto's bassist and drummer as well as session musicians while his father Joe was a prolific session percussionist.

Porcaro in 1982

Unlike most of his Toto bandmates, he generally did not contribute lead or even backing vocals; he considered himself a weak singer, and sang lead on two of his earlier compositions only because he felt that the vocal styles of his bandmates, with the exception of Joseph Williams, were not appropriate for his songs.[5] The song "Rosanna" was supposedly inspired by Porcaro's girlfriend at the time, Rosanna Arquette but this has since been denied by the song's writer, David Paich, and Arquette herself.[6][7]

In an interview with Ben Mankiewicz in 2022 both Paich and Arquette admitted on camera that yes, she was the inspiration.[citation needed]

He left Toto in 1987 after the Fahrenheit album in order to pursue a more full-time songwriting and composing career. However, Porcaro continued working with Toto in various supporting capacities, assisting with keyboards, drum looping, synthesizers and arranging/composing.

Porcaro composed the music for the song "Human Nature" and produced the synthesizer for "The Girl Is Mine" from Michael Jackson's album Thriller, as well as playing synthesizer and keyboard on "Stranger in Moscow" from Jackson's HIStory album.

Steve Porcaro composes music for film and television, including the FX television show Justified, among others.[8]

Porcaro returned to play with Toto at live performances since 2010, when they decided to reform the band and tour in Europe to support Mike Porcaro. They scheduled further concerts in Europe.[9]

Porcaro performed on the band's 2015 studio album Toto XIV, co-writing and singing lead on "The Little Things" and writing/singing lead on the Japan-only bonus cut, "Bend". When the band dissolved in 2019 and regrouped in 2020, Porcaro did not return.[10]


Steve released his first ever solo album on June 10, 2016. Someday/Somehow was co-written/produced by Michael Sherwood, former member of the band Lodgic. The album contains 13 songs, one of which reunites Steve with his late brothers Mike and Jeff Porcaro, from recordings made prior to their passing.[11][12][13][14][15]

Contributions are from Michael McDonald, Jamie Kimmett, Michael Sherwood, Mabvuto Carpenter, Marc Bonilla, Steve Lukather, Lenny Castro, Jimmy Haun, Shannon Forrest,[16] Jeff Porcaro and Mike Porcaro.[4]


Steve Porcaro played a huge variety of synthesizers on Toto albums. While David Paich handled piano duties, it was usually Steve's job to complement the music with creative synth sounds. He was known to use Yamaha GS1, Yamaha DX1, Yamaha DX7, Yamaha CS-80, Roland Jupiter-8, Minimoog, Oberheim Xpander, Polyfusion Modular, Dynacord Add-one and Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizers among others. The synth solo in the Toto song "Rosanna" is a noted example of his approach.[17]

In later years he gravitated towards working with software synthesizers. Onstage he is using two Yamaha keyboards (a Montage 8 and a Yamaha Motif XF7) to drive his Apple MainStage-based virtual synth rig,[18] which draws samples from Logic's ES2 plug-in and Spitfire Audio libraries among others.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

He collaborated with his daughter Heather Porcaro on her debut album, The Heartstring Symphony, released in 2009. Heather was featured in Paper magazine's "Most Beautiful People" issue in 2002.[19][failed verification]


  1. ^ Hogan, Ed. "Biography: Steve Porcaro". AMG. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
  2. ^ "Steve Porcaro". November 23, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Kovarsky, Jerry (July 13, 2015). "TOTO: The Synth Statesmen of Progressive Pop Return". Keyboard. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Steve Porcaro. "Steve Porcaro – Official Website of the TOTO Founding Member". Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  5. ^ "Lea", Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  6. ^ "Toto: The Story Behind Rosanna (2017, with Dutch subtitles) Top 2000". YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  7. ^ "Steve Porcaro | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  8. ^ Appelo, Tim (October 3, 2012). "Showrunners 2012: 'Justified's' Graham Yost". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Greene, Andy (November 20, 2020). "Bless the Rains: Inside Toto's Slow Fall and Surprise Resurrection". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  11. ^ "Steve Porcaro, of Toto: Something Else! Interview". Something Else!. May 26, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  12. ^ "Concert Preview: Connecticut's Steve Porcaro Promoting First Solo Record …And Toto, Too!". Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  13. ^ "Steve Porcaro | Someday / Somehow – CD Review". Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  14. ^ O'Neill, Christina (April 8, 2016). "Toto's Steve Porcaro to release first solo album". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  15. ^ Wardlaw, Matt (June 21, 2016). "Toto's Steve Porcaro Talks About His New Debut Solo Album: Exclusive Interview". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  16. ^ "Toto's Steve Porcaro to release first solo album – Classic Rock". April 8, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  17. ^ "". April 30, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  18. ^ "". January 12, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  19. ^ "Beautiful People 2002: Heather Porcaro". PAPER. April 1, 2002. Retrieved June 6, 2019.

External linksEdit