STEVE LUKATHER TOTO
From page 42 of Classic Rock Magazine August 2005
“Power ballads are timeless, man,” says the guitarist/vocalist. And he’s got the royalty cheques to prove it.
Where did the inspiration for I Won’t Hold You Back come from? I wrote it during the sessions for the Turn Back album . I was sitting around, bored, while there was some mixing going on.
Then during Toto IV [the 1982 album the song eventually appeared on] we were waiting for [David] Paich [keyboard player] to show up, and I was dicking around at the piano. I wasn’t even sure if it was for Toto, because it was so soft. But Jeff [Porcaro, drummer] persuaded me to cut it. It was David’s idea to get James Newton Howard [conductor/ arranger] and Marty Paich [arranger] involved with the London Symphony Orchestra and really make it into an extravaganza.
It has become recognised as one of the all- time best break-up songs. Was it inspired by a real-life incident? Let’s just say my marriage wasn’t going too well at the time. I’m happily remarried now, but I got hitched too young – 23 years old. You should taste the fruits of life first, man.
Some people frown upon power ballads – how do you feel about them? There’s such a stigma about them. But there’s no accounting for taste. Ask the guy in the White Stripes if he likes power ballads and you’ll get laughed at, but ask Def Leppard, who wrote some great ones, and you’ll get a different answer. People love all that shit. So many people had their first sexual experiences to songs like I Won’t Hold You Back. It’s so funny when fans tell me that. Power ballads are timeless, man. They still get played. Believe me, I see the ASCAP [airplay royalty statement] cheques. For something that took me 15 minutes to write, it’s still hanging on in there.
With the IV album, Toto received Grammies for best pop vocal performance, best instrumental arrangement and record of the year (for Rosanna). I Won’t Hold You Back was a Top 10 single in its own right. Is it still a song you’re more proud of than most? I’ve never been good at picking singles, but it was a big song for us. A rock song will have a certain shelf life, but ballads get played forever. And those songs have made bands like ourselves into classic rock bands. You play casinos, they put you up in the finest hotels, we’ve become the Frank [Sinatra] and Sammy [Davis Jr] of our generation.
The song was recently sampled by DJ Roger Sanchez for his Another Chance, which topped the US chart. Is it true that he didn’t fill in the paperwork correctly, and that you got a new house from the proceeds.
Yeah. Thanks, Roger. The strangest thing is all the people in Engla that probably hate Toto but have his record. It’s my voice and my song – isn’t that the craziest thing? But after 30 years of things like critics say our parents should’ve been sterilised, you kinda get used Dave Ling