Toto’s Steve Lukather says he’s still “trying to fight” Africa’s legacy: “That’s the least representative song of what we do”
“Why don’t you just come to see the band once before you think we’re just Africa?”
Image: Andrew Benge / Redferns
Toto guitarist Steve Lukather has spoken out on the enduring legacy of Africa, saying the 1982 hit song continues to misrepresent the band’s music as a whole.
Lukather shared his opinions during an interview with Rock Music History on Sunday (21 March). Suggesting that the success of Africa had typecast the band to one song, Lukather named other songs from Toto which he felt should have been hits.
“There was stuff off [from 1984’s] Isolation like Endless or Angel Don’t Cry which I thought for sure would have been hits,” he said. “But we were getting a lot of shit at rock radio, they just wouldn’t look at us after Africa hit and all the ballads. They just didn’t consider us a rock band, so they discarded our music.”
According to Lukather, he’s still battling against the song’s legacy today, calling it the “least representative song” of what Toto does.
“45 years later, I’m still trying to fight. It’s like, ‘Why don’t you just come to see the band once before you think we’re just Africa?’,” he said. “It’s a kitschy little gift that we’ve been given.”
Africa appears on the 1982 album Toto IV and was a commercial success, climbing to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1983. In more recent times, the song has found a new audience thanks to memes. In 2018, Weezer released their cover of the song, complete with a music video starring Weird ‘Al’ Yankovic as the band’s frontman, Rivers Cuomo.
However, Lukather revealed further along in the Rock Music History interview that he isn’t getting a lick of the song’s royalties as he isn’t credited as a songwriter.
“I don’t make any money off of it – just David [Paich, keyboardist-vocalist] and Jeff Porcaro [the band’s late drummer] because they wrote the song, and [whatever] deals they may have made that I am not privy to.”
Watch the full interview below:
Lukather’s comments on Africa echo those he made last year, when he likened the song to a case of “herpes”: “It keeps coming back when you least expect it.”
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