“How did I even function?”
Steve Lukather is an extraordinarily successful rock musician, having sold over 40 million albums with Toto, while also playing on many of the greatest recordings of the classic rock era. But in a wide-ranging interview in Rock Candy Mag, Lukather acknowledges that he was lucky even to make it through the wild 1980s.
“You look back at that sh*t and you go, ‘What was I thinking of?’” admits Lukather to Rock Candy Mag writer Paul Elliott in the latest issue of the retro rock publication. “I’ve had a good few years of clarity now and I can reflect on it. Some of it was fun, but as you get older you realise it was a waste of time. Living the life I used to lead would kill me now.”
Nonetheless, the 61-year-old still feels that the negative comments about his partying habits at the time went beyond the pale.
“I wasn’t as bad as everybody says I was,” he insists. “When it was time to work I took the work very seriously. All the rumours about how much cocaine we were doing… it really pissed us off. But as Don Henley once wrote, people love that ‘Dirty Laundry’.”
Ironically, Lukather and fellow band member, drummer Jeff Porcaro, both played on that famous Don Henley song as in-demand session musicians. Tragically Porcaro died in 1992, aged just 38, after falling ill as a result of spraying insecticide in the garden of his home. But it infuriates Lukather that rumours still persist that this was the result of a cocaine problem.
“The f*cking sensational headlines, man,” says Lukather. “Let me address this and may I rot in a pit of hell for all eternity if I’m lying to you. Jeff was the least abusive guy in the band as far as drugs go. But what Jeff did have was a pre-existing heart condition he wasn’t aware of. He had an allergic reaction to pesticide and what was gonna happen anyway was pushed to the forefront.”
Yet despite the tragedy of losing “the big brother I never had,” Lukather is grateful for the incredible life and career he’s had.
“It all works out, man,” he insists. “I don’t need anything. Give me a guitar and a meal and put me up on stage and I’m just fine. I’ve done every crazy, f*cked-up thing you could possibly imagine. But now I’m just a simple guy who has a cup of coffee in the morning and goes to work. I’m really appreciative of all the good fortune that’s come my way.