Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Toto's Fight against Als Is Personal

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Toto's Fight against Als Is Personal

Article excerpt

The ice bucket challenge may be new, but the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not. Just ask Toto, whose members have been ambassadors in that fight since bassist Mike Porcaro retired from the band after being diagnosed with the neuro- degenerative disease eight years ago.

"Mike is a soul brother who I've known going back 42 years, since we were 14 or 15 years old," guitarist Steve Lukather said by phone, ahead of the band's Wednesday performance in Englewood. "This band is a family and this is what brothers do for one another."

The band in the past five years has played benefit concerts for Porcaro and partnered with the ALS Association to raise awareness and funds to fight the illness, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The band took the ice bucket challenge -- in which people dare one another via social media to dump ice water on their heads, then donate to an ALS charity -- following a show on Aug. 22 in Atlanta. "We're putting our money up, and plenty of it," Lukather said. "This is a wonderful cause and so many people have been reaching into their hearts to help."

Toto temporarily folded in 2008 after Porcaro retired. "I couldn't do it anymore," said Lukather, who was the sole original member of Toto at the time. "The guys that started the band were gone." The band reformed in 2010 for a summer tour to benefit Porcaro. Joining Lukather were founding members David Paich on keyboards and vocals, Porcaro's brother, keyboardist Steve Porcaro, and longtime singer Joseph Williams. "Originally it was just going to be one set of dates to help Mike out," Lukather said. "It went so well and the fan reaction was so positive that we kept on going. We're doing this for all the right reasons."

New album in works

Now Toto, also marking its 35th anniversary on this tour, is working on new material for its first studio album since 2006. In April the band released the CD and DVD, "35th Anniversary - Live in Poland." The DVD hit No. 1 on the U.S. charts.

"We're almost done recording the new album," Lukather said. "The DVD did incredibly well and there's renewed interest in the band. We took that as an opportunity and a gift. …

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