David Paich has revealed that Emerson Lake & Palmer played a key role in contributing to Toto's distinctive sound. The musician and songwriter behind the hit songs Africa and Rosanna, tells Prog, "In the early days, Steve [Porcaro] and I had seen Emerson, Lake & Palmer, so that was a pretty huge influence."
Guitarist Steve Lukather has previously name-checked Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Gentle Giant as inspiration, but Paich has gone one step further and admitted that ELP's theatrical keyboard player was directly responsible for his own instrument selection.
"Keith had a nine-foot grand, a Moog, and two Hammond organs on stage. He was our Jimi Hendrix – he was the man! So, we bought modular gear, not the Minimoogs, we wanted the monster stuff so we could get the big sounds like Keith. I took my grand on the road, we had keyboards on top of it, keyboards here, keyboards everywhere."
Paich, who released his debut solo album Forgotten Toys in August 2022, now has a much smaller rig and plays a Nord, but in the early days of Toto, the band were all about seeing just how far they could go.
"We were just always trying to expand the limits of the musicality, make rock’n’roll more musically interesting to musicians, and to our musician friends. Jeff [Porcaro, drums] was playing with Steely Dan, and at the same time we were doing sessions with Seals and Crofts, and Boz Scaggs.
"As far as creativity went, we always wanted to extend the bookends. You can hear that on the title track on Hydra. We found out that when you play live, you can’t just play three-minute pop stuff. You have to get into some deep material."
Read the full interview in Prog 134 (opens in new tab), out now.