His name is synonymous with multiplatinum pop, having topped the charts with Michael Jackson, Don Henley, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Barbra Streisand, and Toto, the band he helped found. Along the way he won Grammy awards for “Album of the Year”, “Producer of the Year”, and “Record of the Year”, and he solidified his reputation as a top-call27091982karelhamm_steveporcaro2 keyboardist, songwriter, sound designer, and producer. But there’s more to Steve Porcaro than record sales, platinum plaques, and radio airplay. Unbeknownst to many of his pop/rock admirers, Steve has built a solid musical foundation in film scoring. For over a decade, he studied composition with Allyn Ferguson, and has collaborated with James Newton Howard, including work spanning The Fugitive to King Kong. Along the way, Steve has scored a variety of major motion pictures and hit television shows, and has steadily built his reputation as a world-class composer. While he still gets called regularly for pop studio and stage projects, Steve’s passion and primary focus is music for film having most recently scored the FX series, “Justified”

 Feature Films

  • A Murder Of Crows ( Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Berringer, and Eric Stoltz),
    dir. Rowdy Harrington, Phoenician Films
  • Metro ( Eddie Murphy), dir. Thomas Carter, Touchstone Pictures
  • My First Mister ( Albert Brooks, LeeLee Sobieski), dir. Christine Lahti
    Paramount Pictures
  • Head Over Heels ( Freddie Prinze Jr, Monica Potter), dir. Mark Waters,
    Universal Pictures
  • Skulls *shared credit ( Joshua Jackson, Paul Walker, Leslie Bibb), dir. Rob Cohen, Universal Pictures
  • Cougar Club (Carrie Fisher, Faye Dunaway)
  • Dune (w/ Toto) dir. David Lynch
  • Emmett’s Mark (Scott Wolf, Tim Roth, Gabriel Byrne) dir. Keith Snyder, USA
  • Wayward Son ( Harry Connick Jr.), dir. Randall Harris, Avenue
    Pictures

 Television

  • Justified (Series) FX
  • Unanswered Prayers Lifetime
  • The 19th Wife Lifetime
  • Raines (Series) NBC
  • Footbal Wives (Pilot) Touchstone
  • Montana Sky Lifetime
  • Carolina Moon Lifetime
  • A Season On The Brink (Movie of the Week) (Brian Dennehy). dir. Robert Mandel, ESPN
  • Century City (Pilot)
  • Enterprise (Series)
  • Gideon’s Crossing (Series) ABC
  • Hope ( Christine Lahti), dir. Goldie Hawn, TNT original feature film
  • North Shore (Series) FOX
  • The American Experience: John And Abigail Adams (Mini Series) PBS
  • The Sentinel (Series) UPN

 Composing / Misc.

  • From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (composer: additional music; orchestrator)
  • Primal Fear (musician, additional music)
  • The Medallion (composer: additional music; orchestrator)
  • The Skulls (composer: additional music)

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Comments 189

  1. mike turnbull

    Hi Steve,

    Sincere condolences to you, and the porcaro family in the event of brother Mike’s death.

    A great bass player that we all will miss.

    Best Regards,

    Mike .

    1. Davey Johnstone
  2. ncroisel

    Hi Steve,

    first of all, I’m looking for the best organization to help the research on ALS. I won’t give a great amount of money but I would love to help a bit, especially for Mike but also all the people with ALS. Could you help giving a name of a reliable organization ?
    Secondly, I would like to express with my terrible english how much I admire you, and how much I’m happy you went back as a full-time member of the best band of the universe (best drummer, best pianist, best bass player, best guitar player, best vocals) and how it is hard to wait for listening the new TOTO songs, knowing especially you will put magic synth patches on it…. (Falling in between tunes with your participation sounded amazing!!!!)
    For me TOTO is the best band with you because it’s like an inverted music movie, with soundtrack, you put music to fit images, with TOTO and Steve Porcaro, the music is so magic, that it creates wonderful images on top of music, and as you said in an interview before, it’s not chops chops and more chops without any melody to remember of like so many fusion bands with no direction these days…
    Here are some little questions :
    Will you be indeed a full-time player on every song of the toto album and will you get magic synth patch on every song of the next coming album ?
    Will you play also some “strings” synth ? (I must confess I prefer you than any orchestra in the world and my dream is to listen to how you would put “thousand years” (from seventh one) live replacing the strings with synth) ?
    Will you bring back Leland Sklar to the next tour in Europe ( I assume 2015) ,I know it was Mike’s personal choice as a replacement and he made (Nathan is great as well) a fantastic job on 2007 tour ? Don’t you think he has the best bass tone on earth (besides Mike ?)
    Which synths are you using until now on the next Toto album please ?
    Please bring back a real percussion player (Chris Trujillo, Lenny Castro, Luis Conte) on tour, I’m sure it will sound fantastic with Carlock, don’t you think so ?
    Sorry for my english, again, please say hello to Mike and we are, my wife and I are praying for him very often…You get all my admiration….

    Thanks in advance,

    Warm regard from France to all of you (Mike, Joe, Steve P, Steve L, Nathan, Leland, Joe, Keith, Tal, David, Lenny, Amy…)

    Nicolas Croisel

    1. Steve Porcaro

      Nicolas,
      Sorry for the slow response.
      Thank you so much for offer to help. The ALS association or Augie’s Quest are both great.
      For the most part, I will indeed be a full-time player on every song.
      I have already done some string synths, and plan to do more. There was nothing like going to London and recording the LSO, like the old days.
      I’m not sure who will be on bass for 2015. The powers that be, are working on that right now.
      I’m actually doing a lot of the synths right now. I’m using a lot of plugins (Omnisphere, Logic’s ES-2, ESX-24 sampler, Kontact running Plectrum, Damage, Action Strings) but I’ve also pulled out the CS-80, and the Polyfusion Modular and have been using them both, quite a bit.
      I believe Lenny Castro will be touring with Toto for next year. I’m as excited as you are.
      Take good care Nicolas

  3. Reo

    Hi Steve!
    I was wondering what is the lil thing on your Motif from new DVD. P8 Controller? I cant find anything on internet about this. Thank you for your answer, Cheers!

    1. Steve

      Hey Reo
      That’s my monitor balance. I’m able to set everyone’s level. Only having one ear makes sound on stage more difficult than it already is. How much drums I hear on a certain song is critical, where as sometimes David is doing something I want to closely follow and I need to have him cranked. I’m able to set all those balances myself. I love it. I always hated having to point and wave my hands wildly at the monitor mixer.

  4. Gord Newman

    Hi Steve,

    I’ve been watching your Star Licks video from the 80’s and have found it very helpful in my programming. Thanks to you I am now achieving “blip” that’s been missing in my brass patches.

    Do you have any plans to do more instructional videos, webcasts, etc?

    Regards,
    Gord

    1. Steve

      Hey Gord
      Glad you found it useful. No plans right now to make another. I would love to though. Once you get your blip together, you’ve got to get some “spit” in there. The way I do it with modular, is to take an oscillator, tune it to the speed your lips go when they’re making a sound when you blow through them. feed the audio output of that oscillator into a Voltage Controlled Amplifier – the output of that amplifier into your Voltage Controlled Filter’s control input. There is usually other things going in there like the out of a envelope, the keyboard voltage is often in there so the filter will track with the keyboard. . . What we’re adding is the output of that VCA that has our ‘spit’ oscillator cranking away. We are going to turn the output of the VCA all the way down so we hear nothing until we have an Envelope Generator (att- 0 decay-2-3 sue-0 rel – 0)control the spit VCA via it’s control input. Every time you press a key the VCA will let some spit (the VCO you set to spit speed) out of the VCA just for the attack. (the sustain on the env is always set to zero) you use this to modulate the attack of your filter. This, with the blip happening between oscillators, is my basic synth brass sound. spit’s a lot harder to get, so you have to be creative. Let me know how it works.
      .
      32

  5. Hamilton

    Hi Steve !

    I’ve posted before, but still an honor to be able to talk with such a legend couple of questions :

    Do you remember playing on the Tom Kelly/Billy Steinberg project I-Ten way back 9n 1983 ? To me that record is like a hint of Toto’s Isolation, an underrated record for sure…

    Also, did you ever played the mythical Yamaha’s GX-1 ?

    Greetings from Brasil !

  6. Gareth

    Hey Steve, obviously toto is a fairly unique band in that everyone that contributed were extremely talanted musicians. My question is dave was the star song writr closely followed by luke from an outsider looking in. You obviously had a totally unique sound and song writing style of your own which in my opinion was a more soulfull kind of less comercial sound. Were you pushed out by the bigger egos or just fel your songs werent right for the band as not enough made it on the albums. Ps you need to release an album at least one!

    Keep rocking pal!

    1. Steve

      Gareth,
      Yeah, It was hard getting songs on there with so many talented guys. Also, back in the day, I was more interested in what I was doing with synthesizers in those days than singing my songs. I do have a song I’m singing called “The Little Things” which will be on the new album. Thanks, I shall keep rocking.

  7. Gus Weka Nareswara

    Hi Steve, I’m Indonesian Die-hard Toto Fan even Toto was formed before I was born :)
    Does Toto have a plan to play here for an amazing tour?
    I’m waiting you as soon as possible, and I will be the a fan standing closest the stage. Thanks man.

    1. Steve

      Gus
      We’ve gotten several requests to tour Indonesia and I hope it happens in the near future. There’s nothing on the books as we speak. Thanks for your interest and loyalty. sp

  8. Mike Turnbull

    Hi Steve,

    I am a long time fan of your work. One of the major synths you used in your setup was the Matrix 12, and Xpanders from Oberheim. Could you recommend an instrument, or a sample set that as accurately as possible recreates those classic Synth Brass/Horn sounds that you used in the past ? Some of the software sounds seem OK. but have a very digital sounding attack/transient. I’d welcome your feedback on this one.

    It’s great to hear that a new Toto CD is being made. You also mentioned that you are trying to finish work on your own solo CD. Are there any release dates for these two projects ?

    Best Regards,
    Mike.

    1. Steve

      Hey Mike
      Nice to talk to a long time fan.
      Yeah, I loved the Xpanders. I could really fly around on them; they were multi-timbral; separate outs. I spend a lot more time these days with plug-ins. For that type of voice, I use Logic’s ES-2 synthesizer quite a bit. The difference in sound for me, is not a deal breaker. I love what I get in exchange, which is better organization and more time to write and record more songs.
      Toto should have a new album out early next year. Mine, doesn’t have a solid release date, but I’m working furiously on it. Thanks for your interest. sp

  9. Haykal

    Hai Steve! I’m Toto fan from Indonesia, i have some question? What music do you listen in lately? Did you have new artist/singer that you like now? Thank youu, regaards

  10. Mark F

    I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your contributions to the music industry. I am a drummer here from Hartford CT (your hometown!) I am truly indebted to your Family from Your dad (Joe) to Jeff especially and to Mikey (sending well wishes and thanks) Your Music has been the sound track to my life. Porcaro=Groove in my book! I do Studio and live work here in the Tri state/New England area. I wish I knew TOTO was looking for a drummer I would have applied! lol! Best of luck with everything! Cant wait to see you guys this summer. Keep up the good work.

  11. Alain

    Hi Steve, i’am a great fan of your Music. I Self i play Keyboard in a band. What is you keyboardsetup when you playing with Toto? Do You use Softwareinstruments live on Stage. My english is so Bad.
    Regards

    Alain

    1. Steve

      Alain
      First of all relax. Your English is great. The keyboards I use on stage are Yamaha Motifs. I love them not only for the great sounds, but mostly because of the controllers (sliders, knobs etc) that are assignable.
      I use quite a lot of soft synths live. I run a program called Mainstage on a Mac laptop where I’m able to use the same soft synths and plugins that I use in Logic and it makes all the keyboard splitting and octave changing easy, not to mention adding the effects I use in the studio. I love the consistency it affords me live. Take care

      1. Alain

        Steve,
        Thx for you hispeed answer. I have a Bad feeling about Softwareinstruments, windows and PC on stage. Its my problem. 😉

        I come from Germany and I make a one Weektrip at NY in September. Maybe i Look the Show at 09.03 in NY.

        Best wishes an take care too.
        Alain

  12. Richard

    Hey Steve.

    Long, long time Toto fan. Im actually looking for some guidance if you can direct me. I haven’t seen Toto live since you played HOB in LA/Sunset a few years ago. Actually saw you guys there twice and you showed up/played on the encore. Great shows… My question is simple i hope. My 14 year old son has become quite a fan of the band. Having recently moved to S. Florida, I purchased tickets for him for his birthday for the Seminole Hard Rock show. Is there a way to access a photo with the band either through a fan based package, through the Band or perhaps through the event center? It would be the ultimate surprise for him. If you could advise me of where i might direct my efforts that would be greatly appreciated. Prayers for brother Mike. Hope he’s hanging in there… Cant wait to see you guys.

    Regards

    Richard

    1. Steve

      Hi Richard,
      First of all, thanks for the prayers for Mike. He could certainly use them.
      If you go to toto99.com and view all upcoming shows, you’ll see that they offer a VIP
      package for the Seminole show. It includes a hang at soundcheck and a picture with the band along with some other stuff. It can be a little pricey, but we really make an effort
      to give people their money’s worth and even though it can be a little rushed sometimes depending on how many VIPs there are, we always try to have fun with it so folks don’t feel ripped off and will tell their friends that it was definitely worth it.
      Or, sometimes you can catch one of us coming or going by the artists entrance, and we try to accommodate picture and autograph requests, but you’ll never catch the whole band at once that way.
      Thanks for all the support through the years. It really means a lot to us.

  13. Austin

    Hi Steve,

    Just wanted to say KILLER vocal in Tokyo. You sounded great ! Best to you for the remaining shows!

    Also agreed, Keith is playing amazing!!

    Peace

    1. Steve

      Hey Christian
      on the run/child’s anthem/goodbye elenore medley
      Going home
      Hydra
      St George
      I’ll be over you
      It’s a feeling
      Rosanna
      Wings of time
      Falling In between
      I won’t hold you back
      Pamela
      99
      White sister
      Africa
      How many times
      Stop loving you
      Hold the line
      Home of the brave

      Keith is fucking killing it!

  14. Robert

    Hi Steve!

    Thank you for your answer.
    I appreciated you and your music and I very enjoyed that you back to Toto.
    Toto was the best with six members-and your person off course!

    Amazing-
    I’m happy with your sing a new song!
    HURRAH!!!
    It’ wonderful news for me and all fans of Toto.

    A couple days ago first time I saw “DUNE” movie-
    fantastic,music I know off course.

    I hope that you make next good movie-soundtrack.
    And I would too see Toto in Poland again
    We welcome.

    You have a good time in Japan.

    Best wishes and take care.

    Robert and my family

  15. Joe DeJohn

    Hey Steve, getting my tix for Tampa/Clearwater show tomorrow… Haven’t seen Toto since 1984. Looking forward to it. Really nice that you communicate here. Who was your biggest influence musically? Best Regards, Joey D.

    1. Steve

      Hey Joe,
      Tons of influences. Before 1964, it was what was playing in our household. Mostly cool jazz, some big band stuff some classical. Dad’s music. Then we saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. That was our music. Later it was a lot of R&B, I always loved good pop music. In high school it was all Edgar Winter and Emerson Lake and Palmer and Yes. Lot’s of Steely Dan, Elton John (amazing Paul Buckmaster string arrangements really cranked in the mix)
      Some of my biggest influences aren’t heard in my music so much. go figure. See you at the Tampa/Clearwater show and thanks..

  16. Katelynn

    Hi Steve,
    I was wondering if Takin it Back will be on the setlist this time around? I hope you guys have a blast playing over in Japan!! I’m still keeping my fingers crossed you guys will play in Pennsylvania during the US tour, All the Best to you and the rest of the band. Katelynn

  17. Robert

    Hi Steve!

    This is Robert from Polska again.

    I saw official video from youtube with our polish concert in ?ÓD?-“HOLD THE LINE”-amazing!
    DVD too soon-wow!

    I have a question-
    you sing wonderful songs TOTO-“TAKIN’IT BACK” and “IT”S A FEELING”,I wish that on a new album TOTO you will be singing song!
    Maybe do it?

    In Poland “It’s a Feeling” sing Joseph.
    His version was ok,off course,
    but I like your version.

    Best wishes from Bydgoszcz-Poland

    Robert Jagodzinski and my family

    1. Steve

      Hey Robert,
      Yes! I am singing a song on the new Toto album. We just cut the track on a song I wrote with Alee Willis called “The Little Things”. I sometimes like my voice too, but I’m a very weak singer, and singing live would be very embarrassing for all of us. It’s just a studio thing for me I’m afraid. Believe me, I’d love to sing my songs live to all the pretty girls out there but alas . . . . Thanks for your encouragement and take care.

  18. Zak

    Hey Steve, Big fan for a long time. As a fellow pianist you undoubtedly have your own sound when i have heard you play solo piano. What are the “Steve Porcaro ” chords you use.. and how do you suggest nurturing ones own sound.
    And also, the piece your playing in the video advertising this site is beautiful.. any chance you could play some more of it for me! thanks !! Zak

    1. Steve

      ZAK !! Great question(s). The chords I use are the ones that I love hearing. I don’t have what you might call a “huge” ear. I never play “Jazz” chords as such. (I’m talking about altered 9th, 11th and 13th chords). I love them and I love hearing them in other peoples music, I just never hear them in mine.
      What I love is suspensions. The kind you find in classical music. The most basic example would be Csus4. Just as common for me is what Steely Dan once called a mu major. I bought a book of their music once that was very accurate, and in the introduction they instructed that whenever you see a major chord symbol, say ‘C’, do not play C,E,G — instead play C,D,G (a suspension). This was like, in 1973 and I’ve been playing most (not all) of my major chords like that ever since. I’ve really try to use tons of suspensions. Not only because I love the sound, it’s the emotion they give me that really helps me convey what I’m feeling. Now . . as far as nurturing your own sound. It’s the most important thing you are ever going to do in your musical life as far as I’m concerned. THE most important if you want to be an artist. I don’t care if you spend 12 hours a day practicing and studying Art Tatum solos, and you get really good at it.
      If that’s all you do, I’m sorry, but your just going to be a watered down version of Art Tatum. Study ALL of your influences,(hopefully there are many), and take and learn your favorite bits, motifs, voicings, sounds, riffs whatever and then start combining them in a way only YOU can. No one has your fingerprint or your exact taste in music. Make your music your own and nurture THAT. Really work on making it your own and developing your own sound. Develop and collect your own hot licks, chords and sounds. I gated a Farfisa organ on the record “Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley and thought that was cool until I heard “Crazy” by Seal and heard Mark Mancina gating an organ, but with a wah wah pedal slowly moving. It blew my mind. So much so, that doing that (which can be a time consuming set-up) is one of my hot licks that I can get going in a heartbeat.
      I’ve told this story before: when I was coming up behind my brothers, they were leaving high school and going straight into careers as studio musicians. As I was in my senior year in high school, I started looking ahead as to who my competition was going to be . . David Paich, David Foster, Michael Omartian, Billy Payne, Jai Winding; the list goes on and on. There was no way that producers were going to hire me over these guys. I was no where near them. I had always loved organs with all the bells and whistles and was always dying to get my hands on a synthesizers, and I saw this chasm between guys who knew a lot about synths (only nerds in those days) and the best players who wanted nothing to do with the technical aspect. I saw this huge opening and I dove in and began working with most of the players I mentioned, programming for them and eventually getting called on my own.
      This is something I have to constantly remind myself of. When I first started writing for film, with the help of my friend James Newton Howard. I started off trying desperately to emulate him; I loved his work and only wound up sounding like a watered down version of James. The more I keep it “me” the better it seems everyone likes what I do. Hope some of this helps.
      The guys here at Musinq are working on a way that we can exchange files on this site. I would love to play more of the piece you are referring to.
      Hopefully soon. Thanks for your interest Zak

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