* Welcome to Jeff Porcaro: Groove Master!

My first intention was to get the word out! I started this blog years ago in effort to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Jeff’s passing. I was at Jeff’s funeral and that evening went to a Dave Weckl drum clinic. Dave dedicated a shuffle to Jeff…it was moving. MUCH thanks to Robyn Flans with Modern Drummer!

If you are interested in the year-by-year chronology of Jeff's sessions I put together.  HERE

       GREAT video on Jeff's history from his dad's POV!

*** 2018: UNRELEASED Jeff Porcaro with TOTO ***

TOTO's 40th Anniversary LP 40 Trips Around the Sun
Struck by Lightening & Alone the two originals and thanks to the discovery of some unfinished tracks, the band was also able to revisit previously unreleased material featuring late Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro, who died in 1992, and his brother, bassist Mike Porcaro, who died in 2015 after battling ALS. “We were able to take things with Jeff and Mike that were recorded during the 1981 to 1984 era, and Sony found a whole vault full of s--- that we forgot about,” Lukather says. “Just basic tracks that we didn’t use, because 'Oh, that chorus sucks.' So we were able to go in and go, 'Well, the chorus sucks, but the f---ing track was killer. Can we fix this? Let’s rewrite it and insert it.' We were able to do that now.”

The group used that process on “Spanish Sea,” which grew out of a musical idea from the period when it was working on the 1984 album Isolation. “As David says, it’s an heir apparent to an ‘Africa’ kind of a groove," Lukather notes. "It’s got massive Brian Wilson-like vocals on it. We really went for it. We said, ‘Well, if we’re going to be over-produced and everybody hates that s--- about us anyway, our fans love it, so let’s give them what they want.’ So we kitchensinked this bad boy!”

Jeff once said half of what he recorded is sitting someplace on a shelf in a vault.  I am surprised they didn't do this a long time ago!
          Jeff in Studio 1989...WOW! 


Lots of great Behind the Scenes video on the 1991 tour!

UPDATE ADDED: Jeff Porcaro--David Paich Interview 1978
See; Jeff's Articles section.  Jim Ladd interviews Jeff and David at the release of TOTO's first lp.  Really cool stuff at the beginning of TOTO's career!

UPDATE ADDED: TOTO Demo's circa 1977
Hear the demo's before the first LP...a few songs never recorded as well like Joker's Wild and Love is a Man's World.  end of page HERE

ADDED: Jeff's Performances
Steely Dan 1974 (2 shows), Larry Carlton Live, Karizama Live at the Baked Potato, Greg Mathieson Project: Baked Potato Super Live, Jeff Porcaro, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton Live at Baked Potato 1977,  Michael McDonald, TOTO Isolation Soundcheck,  HERE

ADDED: Jeff's lesser known recordings click HERE
A journey through his early days of being a session drummer...worth a listen to see his development in the studio on tracks most of us never heard!

ADDED: Jeff's Modern Drummer Interviews
Go back to 1983 and 1988. History! Great insights to his recording sessions and influences. Also, the CLASSIC Rikki Lee Jones session story!  ALSO...New articles 2017--Remembering Jeff, an interview with Jeff's father Joe with an added comment by guitarist/producer Jay Graydon --MUST READ

ADDED: Jeff's Drum Set History
Some interesting drum forum comments. HERE

Jeff and David Hungate on bass...a little TOTO
to spread the groove

Just when you thought you had seen it all...
gotta love Youtube and folks who search their archives!  
This is epic for Jeff fans!

Some RARE Jeff playing recently...this is a rare
drum solo from his Sonny & Cher days circa 1973.
Jeff was about 20

Great Interview at the Past to Present time period

MI Interview...great audio and talk

Jeff at Musician's Institute
Holy Grail of Jeff up close and personal

 The 1988 CLASSIC worthy of a monthly watch!

The EPIC signature track
Want more Rosanna isolated tracks?


Beautiful Bruce Springsteen Tribute the day after Jeff died


TOTO was all over Thriller... 
Jeff lays it down (drums only)

I don't speak French, but who cares?
Never saw this before as well...

Recording studio video with Steve Lukather, Jeff Porcaro, 
Mike Porcaro and Michael Omartian. SoundHouse Recording Studio, 
Los Angeles, CA - 1990

New video?  Just caught this uploaded 4-2017

TOTO Goodbye Elenore rehearsal...AMAZING!

Youtube comments...
"2nd drummer Jeff Porcaro had just turned 20. My wife and I first saw a teenaged Porcaro  drumming for Sonny & Cher at a 1972 concert in Fort Wayne, Indiana... then 2 years later we saw him tandem drumming with Jim Hodder at a Steely Dan concert at Toledo University...I use to see him (Jeff) on Sonny & Cher after seeing him at my high school the day before. You should heard his band, Rural still Life,whom later became Toto. My whole school was really a big booster for Jeff;we were all proud of him. But you shoulda seen them during lunchtime, accompanied by the great Scott Shelly on guitar.

Time and Groove...nothing else!
For more demos, see "Rare Jeff Recordings"

Before Youtube, this was as epic as it got!  This and was the
holy grail of Porcaro video back in the day.
Great action of Jeff in studio!


Jeff laying such a deep pocket.
That light ride cymbal touch and the
opening fill, so simple yet signature Jeff.
One of his best Ballads ever w/his bro David Paich

Just GROOVE and FEEL all day long!

Signature Jeff fills from this era (1976)

scampydrums at hotmail. com

* The Man : Part 1--The Early Years








"Those two nights for me are what I could say started my whole career."--Jeff Porcaro

Jeff’s grandfather was a drummer in an Italian symphonic, those bands that would march in the street playing snare drum. His father Joe was, and still is a percussionist and jazz drummer who didn’t take formal lessons until he was about sixteen years old. Living in Connecticut, Joe wanted to be connected to the music scene and his good friend Emil Richards had moved to Los Angeles and had come back to Connecticut telling him about L.A. To Joe, it just seemed like L.A. was the place to be, especially with the demand for studio work and he moved to California in 1968.

If you’ve ever seen the TV serials Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Baretta, Hawaii Five-O, and Medical Center...well in the 70’s that was Jeff’s dad, Joe, playing percussion. Guess who else Jeff’s dad Joe worked with? Marty Paich! That’s right, TOTO’s David Paich’s father. Catch an old re-run of the Streets Of San Francisco and notice at the end credits who the music was arranged by. The Paich-Porcaro connection was all over the place! Talk about musical roots and making deep connections. That’s what is so great about TOTO- this group of guys are as strong as they come. No wonder their music is so tight.

As a kid, Jeff began playing seriously at age seven, though he is sure "I was playing even earlier than that. Only my father would actually know when I got started" Jeff explains. He eventually had formal lessons with his dad and a few others. Jeff said, "My dad was doing the Hartford Symphony and all of us...actually, all the Porcaro boys started out on drums. My other two brothers, Mike and Steve, were taking lessons from him at the same time. We would go down with him on the weekends to the drum shop in Connecticut and he would find some free time from his regular students and give us lessons. My brother Mike was much better on the drums than I was, who switched to bass and Steve took up piano prior to our move to California."

An average Sunday would find the Porcaro kids Jeff, Steve, and Mike gathered in the family room, drum sticks in hand, reverberating in cadence. "As far back as I can remember," says Jeff, "I wanted to be a musician. The players I listened to as a kid were studio players, and in my opinion some of the best all-around musicians happening. I remember hearing my uncle Emil Richards playing micro-tonal music with the Harry Partch Orchestra. I'm very thankful for that environment and for the experience of hearing so many talented players.”

Jeff remembers early on using his father's drums, and when he was thirteen he got into a rock band. Walking home from school one day a friend came running down the street and told him he got a new drum set. Some kid had won a Slingerland champagne sparkle set in a poker game and he sold it to Jeff’s father with cases and cymbals for something like $250.

Sticking with the drums with his dad teaching him from age eight to eleven, and aside from a couple of private instructors and those in school, Jeff taught himself, either by playing with records or playing with bands. "I used to practice in junior high and every day, after school, I'd go into the den, put on headphones and play to 'Boogaloo Down Broadway.' The drums were cool on that and I used to dig that feel. I used to play with all the Beatle records, all the Hendrix records and that's where I think I got a lot of the versatility as far as being able to play authentically one kind of music as opposed to the complete opposite. It's copying what every other drummer did on records” says Jeff.

As for influences, "It was Jimi Hendrix," says Jeff, "who was then, and continues to be, my greatest influence -both musically and spiritually. It's difficult to put into words the magic and majesty I feel in his playing. He remains a vital force, as influential on his instrument as was John Coltrane on sax. It's funny, people have yet to really equal either man." With a sense of sadness in his voice Jeff says, "I'm sure if he had lived I would have had the opportunity to play drums with him. We'll never know what kinds of things he could have done had he lived."

Jeff recorded his first album right around the time of his seventeenth birthday. As a youngster Jeff would accompany his father on gigs, listening to and watching many of Hollywood's top studio and session musicians. His first record date grew out of a rehearsal band headed by Jack Daugherty. Jeff reflects: "When it came time to record I thought Jack was going to go out and hire a professional player like Hal Blaine or Jim Gordon. It surprised me when he called and told me to be at the studio the next day.

"Soon after came a job with Sonny and Cher, then Seals and Crofts, then Steely Dan. Jeff's next gig came when players from the Daugherty band were hired for a summer replacement show starring Sonny and Cher. Few thought the show would last out the summer. Jeff would continue with the show for four years, during which time his career would continue to accelerate. Eventually his strong desire for live group playing forced him to leave.

Jeff states, “Imagine some 18-year-old kid in 1972 who listens to Jimi Hendrix and then gets a gig with Sonny & Cher. I kind of approached it like a circus more than a serious gig." Jeff might have actually gone off to art school had he not gone to Leon Russell's house one night, where David Hungate happened to be. About eight months later, Hungate, who was playing with Sonny & Cher, suggested they audition the 17-year-old Porcaro, and in May, 1972, right before his high school graduation, Jeff left school to go on the road with them. "When you're 18 and you're away from home, as I was on the road with Sonny & Cher, you're sitting there going, 'Well, what am I going to do with my life? Is it always going to be a party like this or what?' I dug art, but the reality of getting into art is real ugly. So it was the kind of thing where I said, like with Sonny & Cher, if I played my cards right, it was a steady gig, plus they did a TV show which I did for their last two seasons. So I figured if I stayed legitimate here, at least I'd know there's some security if I kept my head together and did the gig right. And I could put some money away if I played Mr. Straight for a while."

Jeff comments on this early period, “When I left high school I didn't actually graduate, but I did get a diploma. I got this gig with Sony and Cher and I left a week or two before finals. I never took the finals, but they gave me a diploma anyway. I had to tell them how much I'd be making, and why I wanted to leave and what it meant as far as my future was concerned. They were quite pleased. They let me go without any quarrel.” Though he left school early in return for a drumming career, he doesn't necessarily suggest that high school age drummers in search of musical fame and fortune follow the same path.

"In general, I wouldn't recommend that an individual drop out of school at say his junior year for an opportunity like mine. I don't think my parents would have allowed me to leave if I was any younger. If it was totally up to me I probably would have, because I was a shlock in school. Yet, if I hadn't tripped off into the hills to Leon Russell's house one night, I would never have met Dave Hungate for him to say to Sonny Bono, 'Why don't you call this kid up to audition?' Now, also, if I hadn't played at Dantes one night I, Fagen and Becker [Steely Dan] would never have seen me play when they happened to walk into that club that night to get a drink. Those two nights, for me, are what I could say started my whole career.” And indeed, it was the end of 1973, when, while still with Sonny & Cher and doing an occasional stint with Seals & Crofts, Porcaro was playing at Dantes, a small L.A. club. He had just turned 19 and was earning $1,500 a week. But he quit Sonny & Cher without a moment's hesitation when Steely Dan offered him only $400.

The Kid', as his cohorts dubbed him, was definitely on his way. Jeff reflects on that early period of his career: "There's a chain reaction that happens. I started to get calls to do record dates, and played on some things that became hits. Pretty soon I was getting more calls than I could handle. I felt that I had to live up to people's expectations, musically. There's a commercial style, a disco-apocalypse that's very easy to play, requiring no thought whatsoever. Yet as far as my own evaluation of my playing, I felt that there were many talented drummers that could provide a more authentic feeling...I mean if someone wants a shuffle drummer I can name ten cats who can play with authenticity and feeling in that groove. The late Al Jackson was beautiful (Stax session drummer who played with Booker T. and the MGs), but I'm not Jackson.

After the first tour with Steely Dan and recording the Katy Lied album, doors continued to open for Porcaro, who, along with a cast of characters, were considered to be quite revolutionary. "Paich, Hungate, myself and a few other guys like David Foster and Jay Winding, all started getting into the studio thing at the same time. At that time -I'm talking about '72, '73 and '74 -there was a real echelon of older guys like your Gordons, Keltners and even Hal Blaine. The other pressure was always being the youngest guys being studio players in this town, doing sessions. We were real radical. I mean, I know myself, we hated contractors. I just remember a time observing studio sessions when nobody said anything. You didn't speak your mind; it was 'yes sir' and 'no sir' and you just did your stuff. We weren't brought up to be studio musicians. We were guys who played in power trios; rock 'n' rollers who happened to read and play Barbara Streisand dates too, so we were a bit radical and outrageous for the times.

He goes on, “People didn't know how to take 19-year-old cats speaking musical sense. I was never meant to be a legitimate studio drummer and I get irked when people say "studio drummer.' Hey, I just walked in and played and had fun playing. But I always hated the politics and how you're supposed to perform and act as a studio person. I don't have a book and I don't go the phone and call my answering service and say, 'What's next?'"

Jeff continues, “From my personal experience, going on the road at eighteen did a lot more for me than becoming a school musical genius. They're schooled, and they're slick, but there's no soulful feeling from those guys. The school bit doesn't mean anything to me. It's good to look at, and you say, 'Oh yeah, beautiful, I like that, beautiful touch, you've got stick control'...but those guys would fall apart if they had to play with Chuck Raney, or someone like that. If they played anything, they would fall apart."

* Porcaro Lessons: Manipulating Beat Placement


Porcaro Lessons
Manipulating Beat Placement:
Part I

Perhaps the most important aspect of Jeff Porcaro's drumming was his patience. Jeff let songs and grooves evolve, knowing that a groove doesn't just happen; it is created through repetition and sincerity. Jeff was confident enough to be repetitious, and he never played an insincere note.

I could go on at length about the idea of playing sincerely. Like so many of Jeff’s abilities, they seem to stem inwardly. What he had isn’t what most music school spend much time teaching or what drummers sit around discussing.

To this day, I still struggle with incorporating the idea of ‘less is more’ into my playing. Jeff’s drumming philosophy seemed to be based on this.

So how did Jeff manipulate the beat placement?
Let’s look at a few TOTO cuts to see him at work:
On Toto's self-titled album (1978), which features the hits "Child's Anthem" and "Hold The Line", Jeff's hi-hat approach was evolving.

On "Georgy Porgy" and "I'll Supply The Love", his hi-hat is static, but he applies his trademark "silky" hi-hat on "You Are The Flower" and "Takin' It Back". Compare the in-the-pocket "Rockmaker" to the similar but edgier "I'll SupplyThe Love". Even this early (24 years old) it was apparent that Jeff was becoming a master at manipulating beat placement.

TOTO's Hydra finds Jeff's hi-hat work getting even smoother. Check out the title tune “Hydra” and "99" for Jeff's subtle hi-hat, and the often overlooked "Mama" for yet another variation of the great"Porcaro shuffle".

TOTO’s Turn Back has many highlights. "English Eyes" features some of Jeff's most aggressive drumming, but he doesn't let that affect the tune's laid-back time feel. It also contains one of the first examples of a Porcaro trademark. In the middle of this song, there is a break that he fills in a signature way: The tune has an 8th-note rock feel, but Jeff shifts gears and plays a half-time 16th-note groove as the fill. He did this much more (with other time feels) later in his career.

Manipulating Beat Placement:
Parts II

Jeff let songs and grooves evolve, knowing that a groove doesn't just happen; it is created through repetition and sincerity.

Jeff was confident enough to be repetitious, and he never played an insincere note. Listen to how he paces himself throughout "I Think I Could Stand You Forever" fromTOTO’s Turn Back. Jeff contributes to the song's momentum with his "larger than life" tom fills, but he doesn't complicate the groove. Instead, only his bass drum gets busier- but not until the end of the tune.TOTO IV is recognized as a classic, but it's much more than the legendary "Rosanna" and "Africa". Listen to how Jeff incorporates the parts of the song into his "Good For You" groove. This is more than just a beat; it is one of the greatest examples of orchestrating a drum part around the drumset ever recorded.

Compare "We Made It" to TOTO's earlier "I'll Supply The Love". The main groove is very similar, but notice how Jeff's pocket has developed over time. While closely listening to "We Made It" and "Waiting For Your Love" you'll hear that Jeff by then had mastered his silky hi-hat technique. And upon even closer examination, you'll find that there are many other grace notes (besides his hi-hats) within "Waiting For Your Love". The notes that aren't heard are the ones that can transform a drum beat into a groove. Notice how Jeff's perfectly orchestrated tom fills (yet another trademark) keep the ballad "I Won't Hold You Back" moving.

Jeff knew how to make an entrance. Be it on Boz Scaggs' "Lido Shuffle", TOTO's "Africa", "I Think I Could Stand You Forever", and "Could This Be Love", Michael Bolton's "When A Man Loves A Woman", or Robben Ford's "I Got Over It", Jeff's melodic fills were unpredictable yet precise, dramatic yet musical--and always instantly identifiable as Jeff Porcaro.

TOTO's Isolation was a different type of recording for TOTO and Jeff. The rhythmic lilt and the manipulation of the beat were absent. All of Jeff's drumming on this record was exactly in the middle of the beat. If you don't hear it at first, compare it toLarry Carlton's Friends , made just the previous year. However, "Lion" (from Isolation) proves that Jeff could make "dead center" groove more than anybody. Also note the big fills on "How Does It Feel", and the overdubbed hi-hat on "Endless".

On TOTO's Fahrenheit, Jeff really shines. "Can't Stand It Any Longer" is a perfect Porcaro cut: very aggressive, silky smooth hi-hat, and a deep pocket. The title track is made especially unusual by the second-line idea at the end of the song. "Without Your Love" is another difficult in-between tempo that Jeff holds perfectly. And "Somewhere Tonight" adds one more chapter to the "Porcaro Encyclopedia Of Shuffles", this time with a strong reggae influence.

From The Seventh One, "Mushanga" is a unique and creative groove. "These Chains" is yet another amazing shuffle, and "A Thousand Years" is yet one more difficult tempo made easy by Mr. Porcaro.

* Porcaro Lessons: Manipulating the Time






Porcaro Lessons
Manipulating the Time Feel:
Part I
Only five years after Jeff entered the recording business, he played on Boz Scaggs' memorable Silk Degrees. Even at that young age Jeff was able to manipulate the time feel in many ways.
1. On "What Can I Say" he lays back, playing well behind the beat.

2. On "Georgia" he's as "on top" as he could be without actually rushing. And in both cases the groove is amazingly comfortable.

3. On "Jumpstreet" Jeff splits the difference, placing the beat absolutely dead center.

4. His cut-time reggae groove on "Love Me Tomorrow" is almost as great as his "Lido Shuffle" beat, a classic groove that every drummer should learn.

By the time of Boz's 1977 recording Down Two, Then Left, Jeff's drumming had changed. Though still young, he had already made many recordings, and, like any great musician, he was constantly evolving and improving. Many people refer to Jeff's "silky" hi-hat work.

Isolate Jeff's hi-hat parts on "A Clue" and "Gimme The Goods", focusing not on the pattern he plays, but on how he varies the part of the stick with which he strikes the cymbals. This technique varies the hi-hat's texture, making it sound more like a maraca, and fills the music with forward motion. Compare this to the more static hi-hat sounds on Silk Degrees, made just the previous year. This is only the beginning of Jeff's unique hi-hat style.

Manipulating the Time Feel:

Part II
Speaking of Jeff's unique hi-hat style on Boz Scaggs’ 1977 recording Down Two, Then Left, notice the absence of it entirely on the shuffle "1993".

In 1980, Jeff recorded Boz Scaggs' Middle Man. On "Angel You" and "JoJo", notice how he places the beat exactly and consistently dead- center, and how on the latter he makes the very difficult hits seem effortless.

On, "You Got Some Imagination" shows Jeff playing more aggressively. Pay special attention to how his busy bass drum locks in perfectly with the bassist.

On, "You Can Have Me Anytime" is one of those "not slow but not fast" in-between tempos. Jeff attacks this difficult gray area, and even gets creative with it. And what can you say about the rockin' "Middle Man" except that it's [perhaps] perfect.

These three great Boz Scaggs tunes provide an ideal study of the evolution of Jeff's style. Jeff also played on Boz's Other Roads, recorded in 1988.

Manipulating the Time Feel:
Part III
A couple notable early recordings Jeff did can be heard from Larry Carlton and Les Dudek . With Carlton Jeff made three recordings:Larry Carlton (check the outstanding Point It Up), Sleepwalk, and Friends. The latter, highly recommended, is a record-long showcase of quintessential Porcaro: wide beat, deep-in-the-pocket drumming.

The three early Les Dudek releases sound similar to Carlton's, but possess more of an edge, like early Little Feat. (You can hear some very distinct Richie Hayward influences both in Jeff's sound and style.) Say No More and Ghost Town Parade are good, but Dudek's self-titled recording is excellent. Jeff shifts beats and sounds very funky on "City Magic", the Zappa-ish "Don't Stop Now" lets him display some early Bernard Purdie influences, and he gets down and swampy with "Take The Time".

Les Dudek's album, Deeper Shades Of Blue, is also outstanding. This recording presents Jeff's many blues shuffle variations and could serve as an encyclopedia of this drumming style.

Manipulating the Time Feel:
Part IV

Steely Dan's entire Katy Lied is a Porcaro masterpiece...and he was only 21 when he recorded that LP in 1975. His uptempo shuffle on "Black Friday" is notable, and the swinging "Your Gold Teeth II" stands out as a drastic departure from the rest of his career. The slower shuffle of "Chain Lightning" is further proof that Jeff owned this style of groove. You can also hear him moving the time feel around from playing on top in "Rose Darling", to slightly behind on "Daddy Don't Live In New York City", to dead center on "Everyone's Gone To The Movies". Sure, Jeff could have played "more" drums on this recording, but that's not what the music called for, and whenever Jeff played, the music came first.

In 1982 Donald Fagen called Jeff to do some of the drumming on his solo debut, The Nightfly, on which Jeff plays yet another shuffle variation on "Ruby Baby". Compare his shuffle approach to Steve Jordan's feel on "Walk Between The Raindrops" on this same album. Also compare Jeff's dead-center time feel on The Nightfly to his earlier, ultra-laid-back groove onSteely Dan's "Gaucho" from the album of the same name. But regardless of his varied treatment of the time feel, Jeff always had full command of the time.


* In & Out of the Studio (1991)






DRUM! November/December 1991 Interview by Greg Rule

Kingdom Of Desire Session

It's 2:00 pm, in North Hollywood, California. As the summer sun turns streets into asphalt skillets, residents flock in droves toward the nearest beach, pool, or air-conditioned sanctuary. For those en route to the Power Plant rehearsal complex, however, they're about to discover that the real heat isn't taking place outdoors, but deep within the carpeted walls of Studio #2 where a new, stripped-down incarnation of Toto has taken up temporary residence.

Comprised of Jeff Porcaro on drums, brother Mike on bass, David Paich on keys, and Steve Lukather on guitar/lead vocals, the band is conducting full- blown concert rehearsals and testing new material for their upcoming record. At the far corner of the dimly lit room, just past an on looking Eddie Van Halen and Stuart Hamm, sits Jeff Porcaro, peering at the tribe from behind his glistening set of blue Pearls. Four clicks of his Regal tips ring out, and, like a hammer on the forehead, the band launches into a ferocious instrumental romp. With a cigarette hanging loosely in his mouth, bandanna wrapped around his head, and a menacing Rod Serling lip-grimace on his face, Jeff proceeds to burn like a five-alarm fire. Two hours and ten songs later--capped by a grueling, triple-stroke bass drum workout on the Sly Stone tune, "Higher"--he emerges from behind the pummeled tubs, holding his hip, limping, and laughing. "Man, I'm getting too old for this!" High fives are exchanged and slowly the room clears.

For Jeff, the next stop is Chuck E. Cheese's pizza parlor for his son's five-year birthday party. "See you tomorrow," and off he goes. The next day is, if anything, more intense. With the deadline of an upcoming Ventura Theater warm-up show (I saw this show!) looming nearer, the boys are buckling down.

While Jeff finalizes the art design for the concert tee-shirts, Paich grills the backup vocalists. Lukather, on the other hand, fiendishly recites lewd prose from a tattered paperback (which elicits a chorus of belly-laughter and jeers). Minutes later though, it's back to the grindstone. The band cruises through their monster hits "Hold The Line," "Rosanna," and Africa" before Jeff and percussionist Chris Trujillo rip into a dizzying, syncopated duet. Next come the new tunes, the dark and moody "Kingdom Of Desire" and "On The Run," an up-tempo shuffle.

As the day wears on, the band- members grow increasingly confident with the arrangements and performances. In less than a week the gear will be packed up, loaded onto the trucks, and the tour will officially begin. And so goes the brilliant and ever-blossoming career of L.A.'s top-gun drummer. His chops have never been tastier, as those fortunate enough to catch the '91 tour will attest. For others, however, they can check out Jeff's latest by picking up new discs from Toto, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Richard Marx, and 10CC--not to mention the hundreds of other cuts he's graced.








DRUM! caught up with Jeff amid the rehearsal madness and compiled the following report. DRUM!: What changes, if any, has your drumming gone through over the past couple of years?Jeff: I just keep getting worse. [laughs]

DRUM!: Seriously, at one point you said that you were focusing on developing your left foot.
Jeff: And I still don't have it together, man. It's so hard to find the time. First of all, I'm 37 years old now. I have two kids, another on the way, and I enjoy being a father and a husband. I mean, I could shine all this on and be a farmer--and enjoy life that way. But, don't get me wrong, I do like playing the drums. It's just that I don't get much time to woodshed. Any free time I have away from the family is wrapped up in doing sessions or working with Toto. So I'm finding myself trying to sneak into sessions early so I can have an hour by myself to work on new things, new ideas. But, basically, I'm still trying to refine my time. That's all I think about, still, is time and groove. And I'm still trying to get it right. Really! It's a hard thing.

DRUM!: Listening to some of your earliest tracks, and following through to the present, there's never appeared to be a period when your time wasn't happening.
Jeff: You know, I think I was real fortunate to have been exposed to time at a very early age--especially with my Dad [Joe Porcaro] playing all the time. When I was young and listening to music, I REALLY listened to music. I mean, I wasn't listening to music for the party of it, but for the groove. I was heavy into bebop. It was that cymbal beat "ding ding da-ding, ding da-ding." When that was grooving, when guys like Elvin Jones were walking, that, to me, was time. And so, I find it frustrating because people say, "Yeah man, your time is good." And I go, "Look, I appreciate it." But my ears, over time, have gotten so in tune to listening to time and groove that I get real critical of myself. I can honestly say that, out of all the sessions I've done, there's probably only one where I was satisfied with the way it felt.

DRUM!: Which record are you talking about?

Jeff: The Steely Dan tune "FM," which was just an overdub to a click track. That tune, for whatever reason, just felt the best to me. But I've never been happy, man. It's just so hard for me to listen to stuff I've played on. It just frustrates me.

DRUM!: You've said that you don't consider yourself to be a real drum enthusiast. No drums around the house or anything?
Jeff: Yeah, it's true. A lot of students ask my Dad about me, how often I practice, how I play things and so forth. And, I've got to be honest, my Dad calls me a "street drummer." He taught me when I was about nine years old for two years on and off and that was it. I mean, I never even made it through that first Buddy Rich rudiment book, or whatever. My technique is the worst. People might look at me and say, "You've got good technique," and yeah, okay, if you get to play ten hours a day, six days a week, for the past 20 years like I have then, yeah, you develop some sort of technique. But it's nothing really.

DRUM!: Nonetheless, you've developed some hand and foot things that are definitely worth talking about. For instance, your ability to play double and triple strokes on the bass drum pedal. How did you get it happening?
I tried to copy a beat that I heard a guy do on a record and the only way to do it was to figure out how he was getting a double beat on the bass drum. And I couldn't make it happen by doing two separate beats on the pedal. You can't do that. So the way I made it work was by sliding my foot up the pedal. And it maybe took two years to get it where that action felt natural. [The following fill requires clean double strokes on the bass drum. You can hear Jeff unleash a blazing version on "Animal" from the Toto, Past To Present album.]

DRUM!: How did you get your one-handed, sixteenth note hi-hat technique together?
Jeff: It's something that I learned by watching and listening to other drummers. If you play an R&B thing with sixteenth notes and you switch over to a two-handed thing after a certain tempo, then to me, it becomes a completely different feel. I was used to listening to James Gadson and Ed Green, Marvin Gaye records, all those Motown records. Those grooves sounded like silk, and all those guys did it one-handed. So when I was young and started doing sessions, if someone asked for a sixteenth note groove, then that's the they way I did it. But I used to go nuts because keeping those sixteenth's going without fatigue isn't an easy thing to do. It's just a thing where the more you do it, the better you get at it. Same with shuffles, same with everything. See, I've never played one original thing, ever! And if I did play an orignal thing, I would tell you. But what I like to do when I copy something is to experiment with different accents. Like, when I play a regular dotted-eighth shuffle, for instance, I try to find all the different ways to make it lope.

DRUM!: On the subject of shuffles and lopes, your name seems to have become synonymous with a certain half-time shuffle groove.
Jeff: Sometimes that hurts my feelings, and I'm very serious about this. I've heard it now for too many years where people will say, "Yeah that 'Rosanna' groove, that's the Jeff Porcaro feel." "Rosanna"

DRUM!: But "Rosanna" is just one of many notable grooves you've played. Take "Mushanga" [The Seventh One] for instance.
Well, Steve Gadd had made a trip to PIT to give a clinic, and my father happened to be there. Then, later, my father showed me this fast samba that Steve played for the class. It had to do with an inverted paradiddle. "Mushanga" is basically the sticking from that same thing. Then I added some stuff to it. The tom pattern came from listening to Floyd Sneed of Three Dog Night on the tune "King Solomon's Mines." There were all of these toms going on and that's what I wanted to hear. So that was in my head when I was working on "Mushanga." I'm still waiting for that original idea. "Mushanga"

DRUM!: You've said that when you were cutting "Africa" you made a tape loop. Have you experimented with loops since then? "Africa"
Lots of times. I did a 10CC record in New York several months ago that had this really nice hypnotic thing and I said, "Let's make a loop." And they were like, "What, a loop?" And I said, "Yeah, like the old days." And the problem was that we couldn't find an analog machine that didn't have all these computer things on it. Most of these new analog machines now can't do tape loops unless you disconnect a bunch of electronics. So they said, "How do you do it?" And I said, "Let me go out there, play to a click, and I'm just going to play bass drum, cross stick, and hi-hat for 16 bars. Then I'll pick my best two bars. We'll rewind the tape and start it four bars before that section. I'll start overdubbing some percussion, some cowbell, shaker, a little tom part, a conga part and then loop it all." Then, on the downbeat of the loop, I played this big revolutionary-type rope drum. It was a huge, like 20" x 20" drum. And the room at Bearsville was just big enough for us to place the room mics just right so that we got a natural sixteenth note delay happening, without using digital effects. It was almost the way Bonham used to do it--that stone hallway he used to record in.

DRUM!: Let's talk about some of your other sessions for a moment. The direct-to-disk record James Newton Howard & Friends must have been an incredible challenge?
Those are very high-pressure records because you can't screw up. Say, if you have five songs on one side and you mess up song five, then you have to start all over again. And there's no rest in between tunes. If the first tune is a burner in 7/8, then you've got the amount of time between songs on an album to A, change your music if you're reading, and B, just get yourself psyched up for the next tune which is a waltz with brushes. You know what it's like when you're playing real hard to make a quick switch to a slower tempo-- your hands are still shaking from the intensity from the track before. It's tough.

DRUM!: Approximately how many sessions do you think you've done?
Jeff: Last year a British publishing company put out an encyclopedia of music which had a listing of musicians and the records they'd played on. I had quite a few, but it was probably actually only half of what I'd played on. A lot of stuff never even gets released. Probably half the stuff that anybody does never sees the light of day, it's on some shelf somewhere.

DRUM!: Do you try and keep a copy of each record at home for posterity?
No. I used to do that, but not any more. I'll be in the car and hear something on the radio and say "Oh, this is cool." And someone will say, "Yeah man, that's you on that track." You forget sometimes. A lot of people think that you spend six months in the studio with an artist. But no, most of the time it's not like that. You walk in one day, see a chart, play the tune, and then split. And lots of times you'll forget what the tune even was.

DRUM!: Have you ever done a session where your drum sounds were later replaced with bad samples or something of that nature?
Yeah, not so much where they've raped it, but stuff where they later on triggered other samples or gated everything. I hate gates. You're not hearing the little ghost notes and all the little breathing. It's the in-between stuff, for me, that gives you the groove. You strip that stuff away and you've got nothing. You've got boom-chank-boom-chank. So, that doesn't happen too often, but when it does, I keep it in mind next time I get called to do a project with that person.

DRUM!: What advice would you give to a drummer getting ready for his or her first session?
Jeff: Basically, try not to think too much. Because your playing starts to sound like thinking. It's funny, I've seen some guys get really hung up thinking too much about the music. People should be more honest with themselves. People need to relax and have fun. When you get your first studio call, you'd better not play any of the crap you've been rehearsing or reading out of books. You'd better just play time. Period! Really good time. And make it tasty. And have dynamics, listen to the lyrics of the song, and be there as a timekeeper. If someone calls on you to pull a trick or two out of your hat, then cool. But basically, that producer, that engineer, that arranger, or that singer, they aren't drummers. They're not going, "Wow man, dig how cool that cat's playing." They're saying, "Dig how cool that groove is." They only know groove and time. They don't know that you have a nice wrist or you're doing nice things with your fingers and stuff like that. ! ! ! ! ! ! Two months later, the scene shifts to the posh recording studios of A&M in downtown Hollywood. With the band back from a hugely successful European tour, it's track-cutting time.

Let's Hear A Word from Dad, Joe Porcaro!
Like Father, Like Son
Modern Drummer Interview 1978
MD: Where are you origianlly from?JOE: I was born in New Britain, Connecticut, which is about fifteen miles from Hartford.

MD: How did you first get interested in drumming?JOE: My father was a drummer in an Italian symphonic band, those bands that used to march in the street. My father played the snare drum. I used to go along with him, and learned to read music from a friend who played the clarinet. I hadn't studied at all at that point because I was playing and marching with my father, learning by ear. I was just playing snare drum, and when I moved to Hartford I joined the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). We wanted to get a jazz group going, but I hadn't yet played on a drum set. The first time I played on a set was when a friend of my father's left his set at the house. I set them up one day when my father went to work and started wailing away, but I broke the head. I hid it under the bed, (laughter). I was about 9 years old. Finally, we got the band started and one of the priests played piano. Emil Richards, a well-known percussionist here in L.A. was there and played the xylophone.

MD: What kind of drum equipment were you using back then?
JOE: My first set consisted of a bass drum from the bugle corps, a field drum mounted on the bass drum acting as a tom-tom, and another field drum for a snare. We also used the cymbals from the drum corps. That was my first set of drums. In fact, Louis Bellson played on that set. Our church was next to the State Theatre in Hartford where all the bands came through. There was a playground next to the theatre where all the neighborhood kids would hang out, and when the name bands came in, they would see us playing softball. All the bands had softball teams back in those days and they'd play us on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. The singer in the CYO band went back stage in the theatre one time, and got Louie to go to the rehearsal hall. He was very young, and had just joined the Tommy Dorsey band. That was a wild experience for me, watching Louie play on that funky old drum set.

MD: Speaking of Tommy Dorsey, I see your name here on his album cover.
JOE: The Dorsey band was the very first band I went on the road with. I was only with him a couple of months. From there I joined Bobby Hackett's quartet. I was also the house drummer in a jazz club in Hartford, so I got a chance to play with a lot of great people. This club would bring in people like Zoot Simms, Freddie Hubbard, and Donald Byrd.

MD: What about formal instruction?
JOE: I was self-taught until I turned sixteen. Then I realized my real ambition was to make it as a drummer, so I took a few lessons. I studied with a guy named Bob Shields, who was the drummer at the State Theatre. We worked strickly on reading, and playing the snare drum. Later, I met Al Lepak, and it was a whole new ball game with him. He had a system of working on rudiments that was very complete. He's the head of the percussion department at the University of Hartford, and turned out a lot of great players. He's responsible for me being here, along with Emil Richards, Bob Zimmitti, Rich Lapore, and a lot of others. Al made musicians out of us. I was with the Hartford Symphony, and played almost every opera that had ever been written. But, my major ambition was drum set. Eventually, that CYO thing developed into a sixteen- piece big band. We'd play all of the big band charts. When I was sixteen and seventeen, I'd rehearse with a lot of the big bands around town, and jam every Sunday afternoon. There were a couple of black clubs where we'd go to jam and sit in during the week. That's where I fist met Horace Silver.

MD: Of all your early musical experiences, where do you think you gained the most?
JOE: I really think I learned a lot as house drummer in that jazz club, working a whole summer with pianist Jaki Byard. He taught me an awful lot. He moved on to play with Maynard Ferguson and did some teaching at Berklee.

MD: What brought you out to Los Angeles?JOE: I wanted to go further musically. I knew Emil Richards was living and working out here. He had come back to Connecticut and rapped to me about L.A. Of course, when you're a musician and you keep working at it, you try to become the best you can and you want to be where it's happening musically. The way Emil talked, it just seemed like L.A. was the place to be especially with the demand for studio work. We came here in 1968. The guy upstairs must have really been taking care of me, because when I got here I had no trouble getting work. The first year I was in L.A. I made more money than I'd made in five years back in Connecticut. But it stemmed back to the experience I'd had back there; playing jazz, symphonic, operas, summer music theaters, everything. I wouldn't have had the chance to develop that much in the big city with all the competition.

MD: Do your current experiences require you to read a lot of music?
JOE: Sure. Having played all sorts of repertoire as a member of the Hartford Symphony for severnteen years I feel confident reading. When I came here I was ready for just about anything. But let's face it, you never learn everything. I still come across things that are mind boggling. I remember Emil showing me some figures that Frank Zappa layed on them for a record session. Figures I had never seen before. And I thought I had seen it all. We learn every day.

MD: Do you still manage to find time for practice?
JOE: Oh sure. It's hard to do it every day because of the studio demands, but certainly when I have a day off. I have some hand warm-up exercises that I do, and I try to listen a lot. I try to get to the clubs where my kids are playing, as well as others. I think it's very important to keep up with what's happening.

MD: Any preferences in drum equipment?JOE: No, I just use whatever equipment comes through the house here. I use Ludwig drums in the studios. Of the new equipment I've seen, fiberflass is great for live playing. It really projects. I even like the sound it produces in the studios. But, I prefer wood drums. It's a warmer sound. I don't really make too much out of drums. I hear of companies making 4-ply shells and 6-ply shells. Truthfully, it doesn't make that much difference to me. Oh, I suppose the trend toward multiple drum set-ups is OK for the contemporary rock stuff, but for jazz playing, I don't think it makes any difference.

MD: You use the matched grip?JOE: Yeah. I started out with the traditional grip, but changed over because I play mallets a lot. Since I hold the sticks matched for mallets, I decided to go all one way. I try to influence my students that way, but I don't force them. I can teach either way.

MD: Have you gotten into the electronic thing at all?
JOE: No, not at all. Jeff has, but I haven't. I'm not really that interested, plus it's much too complicated for me. But I'll tell you, the more I see it, the more I'm beginning to understand it. Who knows, someday I may give it a try.

MD: How do you view the drummer's role in any musical setting, solo or ensemble?
JOE: I'm not really wild about solos, but if a drum solo is musical, it can be beautiful. People say a particular solo was "too technical", but I like to see the virtuosity of the player. At the same time, I like to hear solos that are musical. One of the best solos I ever heard was by Philly Jo Jones, who is one of my favorite drummers. He did a tune on his own album called Salt Peanuts, which I thought was a gem. Max Roach did a gorgeous solo on the same tune recorded live in Canada with Charlie Parker. I've also heard some beautiful solos by Buddy and Louie, too. In regards to ensemble playing, I like to feel I'm the backbone of the rhythm section but I don't want to be a drummer who just keeps time for everybody. It all depends on what the rest of the rhythm section is like. When everybody is playing time the same way, I like to get loose and stretch out a little bit.

MD: Are there any new young drummers you particularly enjoy listening to?JOE: Harvey Mason, for what's going on today. And Steve Gadd is really way up there for me. I love what he does. John Guerin. And, my son Jeff. I really like to hear him live. He's very exciting to watch. He gets into a little show thing sometimes, but he's got a lot happening for him musically.

MD: Have you been doing any clinics?
JOE: I've done a few clinics, but I really don't like to do them. I try to get into basic things for the kids. So many guys are doing clinics nowadays. I try to show them the things they don't get from the others. Mostly basic stuff. We have an educational project that might be happening here in correlation with the Guitar Institute of Technology run by Howard Roberts and Pat Hicks. They've approached Emil Richards to come up with a staff for a west coast percussion school with the same type of format they have with students going to college. Emil and I are trying to make it happen, and if it does, it will be one of the best schools anywhere. We're going to go all out. It will be a complete percussion school where a drummer will be able to get the best education possible. It's essential that young students study with a teacher who will show him the basics. It's important to be in an environment where you have to play everything.

MD: What else are you involved in musically at the present?
JOE: Mostly TV serials. Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Baretta. There's a Movie of the Week with the Fonz coming out that I'm playing on. I also did Hawaii Five-O, and Medical Center last year. I'm very happy with the work in the studios out here. I think I've reached the plateau. As far as I'm concerned, I'm doing everything I've ever wanted to do in music.



* Kingdom of Desire Recording Session

The Man with the Golden Groove!
DRUM! Magazine was on the scene, and it went something like this:

Day One, 10:00 A.M.
Matt Luneau and Paul Hurd of the Drum Doctor arrive at Studio A with Jeff's equipment. They wheel in several different drum sets, an array of Paiste cymbals (including a couple of unidentified prototypes) and an Anvil case full of snare drums. The kit is set up in the main room of the studio--a large, ambient room with wooden floors and a high ceiling.

By 10:15 A.M.
The drums are locked into place and the process of changing heads begins. Coated Remo Ambassadors are installed on the top sides of the snare and toms while a Remo PowerStroke 3 is the choice for the bass drum. Jeff's snare is cranked tightly while the toms are a bit looser--with the bottom heads tuned slightly lower than the top heads to produce a subtle pitch bend effect. A packing blanket is placed inside the bass drum and secured with a sandbag.

10:40 A.M.
After tuning the kit, Matt and Paul depart and the engineers from A&M begin placing microphones. The selection includes an AKG D12 and a Neumann 47FET on the bass drum, AKG 414's on the toms, a Shure SM57 on the top of the snare and a Sennheiser 441 on the bottom, a 452-10 condenser on the hi-hat, and six AKG C12's as overheads--two directly over the kit, two approximately six feet in front of the kit, and another two at approximately 12 feet in front.
11:00 A.M.Jeff arrives, tells a hilarious Ike Turner session story, grabs a pair of sticks, and starts to warm up behind the kit. After 15 minutes, Ross Garfield "The Drum Doctor" arrives with a snare drum for Jeff to try out. It's a 5" x 14" Solid/Select maple shell, Tama die-cast hoops, a Sonor throw-off, and a 42-strand snare. Jeff loves it. According to Ross, "Jeff's got the tuning thing down, but he likes to have a second set of ears sometimes."

11:30 A.M.
Engineer Greg Ladanyi wheels a pair of bass cabinets into the studio and positions them on each side of Jeff's bass drum. His plan is to route the bass drum signal through the speakers and mike them for additional ambiance.

1:00 P.M.
The process of getting drum sounds begins. As Jeff hits each drum repeatedly, Ladanyi works the huge Neve console like a mad scientist. With no outboard effects (other than a bit of compression here and there) he quickly achieves a very lively and very powerful drum sound. When he starts bleeding the bass drum throught the cabinets, everyone in the control room seems amazed.

1:45 P.M.
As Jeff lets rip on the kit, Ladanyi rolls tape. Soon after, he invites Jeff into the control room to hear the playback. Jeff returns to the studio to tweak the 14" floor tom and change a crash cymbal. Once done, he's ready to track.

3:00 P.M.
David Paich, the last band member to arrive, enters the studio and takes a seat behind his heaping pile of MIDI gear. The band is set up in a circle, face-to-face, in the same room. Each musician has a remote mixing console which allows them to customize their own headphone/monitor mixes. With the guitar and bass amplifiers isolated in separate booths, they're ready to cut the basic tracks for "I'll Never Hurt You" together, without a click.

3:40 P.M.
After a console problem is fixed, they're once again ready to roll. The first time through is solid, but, unfortunately, Jeff's headphones fly off his head half-way through the take.

4:00 P.M.
As an added precaution, John "JJ" Jessel--Paich's long-time keyboard tech--brings in an Alesis SR-16 drum machine for a click reference. Jeff quickly creates a repetitive eighth-note handclap and cowbell pattern to play along with. A couple of takes later, it's a keeper--with no overdubs necessary.
Day Two, Noon.With the basic tracks for "I'll Never Hurt You" in the can, today's goal is to cut "Don't Chain My Heart," a mid-tempo shuffle written by Paich.

12:35 P.M.
Jeff arrives and, along with Lukather and Mike Porcaro, starts to warm up in the studio. For this tune, Jeff is laying down a solid four-on-the-floor kick pattern with a tasty offbeat shuffle pattern over the top. He's programmed an eighth-note triplet click pattern on the Alesis SR-16.

1:50 P.M.
Paich finally arrives and the tape starts to roll. After the first time through, Ladanyi calls the band into the control room to hear the playback. Afterwards, everyone is convinced that Jeff's track is a keeper.

2:05 P.M.
After soloing the bass and drums, they indeed decide to keep the drums. The process of singularly overdubbing bass, rhythm guitar, and keyboards begins. Lukather, now behind the board, relates to Ladanyi, "Whatever we do, we've got to make sure that we don't fix the life out of these tunes." Jeff agrees. "If we punch the bass guitar in and out too much, my fills are going to start sounding stiff."

2:30 P.M.
With the bass and drum tracks now complete, the band gives the tune a high-volumed playback. Heads bob, harms flail, and high- fives abound. Lukather turns to Jeff, slaps him on the back and says, "Awesome man. Awesome. This is one of your finest!" And on that note, the control room empties. Just another day in the studio for the man with the golden groove.

Porcaro's Power Tools
Drums: Pearl MLX (maple)1. Alternates between: 3 1/2" x 14" Pearl Free-Floating brass piccolo, Pearl 5 1/2" x 14" steel, 5" x 14" Solid/Select maple, Ludwig Black Beauty (plus many more)
2. Brady 10" soprano snare drum
3. 18" x 22" bass drum
4. 8" x 10" mounted tom
5. 8" x 12" mounted tom
6. 9" x 13" mounted tom
7. 12" x 14" suspended floor tom
8. 14" x 16" suspended floor tom

Cymbals--Paiste Signature Series:
A. 14" hi-hats
B. 10" cup chime
C. 6" cup chime
D. 18" crash
E. 16" crash
F. 20" ride
G. 17" crash
H. 20" Wuhan China-type

Jeff Porcaro also uses PureCussion RIMS, Drum Workshop DW-5000 pedals, Calato/Regal Tip "Jeff Porcaro" Performer Series drum sticks, Remo coated Ambassadors on batter sides, clear Diplomats on bottoms, and a PowerStroke 3


* Story Behind "Africa"

Maybe a good Weekend Chatty post...but a fun read....

Arguably Toto’s most recognizable song, “Africa” hit Number 1 on the Billboard Charts in February 1983. It was almost cut from the Toto IV record prior to its release. Having spent an incredible amount of time producing the tune, the band became so tired of the song that they didn’t want it on the album. The song itself was very different from anything the band had done before, and some members felt that it didn’t sound like Toto.

“I didn’t think it was very good,” said Steve Lukather (Classic Rock Revisited, 2003). “That tells you what can happen when we pick our own singles!”

David Paich, who co-wrote the song with Jeff Porcaro, said that it “could have been the beginning of a solo project [for me] because it was so different. I thought I’d save it…[because] world music
World music

The term world music includes Traditional music of any culture that are created and played by indigenous musicians or that are "closely informed or guided by indigenous music of the regions of their origin," including Western World music.... wasn’t around then.”

The initial idea for the song came from David Paich, playing on his piano. Jeff explains the idea behind the song: "... a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he's never been there, he can only tell what he's seen on TV or remembers in the past."

Musically the song took quite some time to assemble, as David and Jeff explain:

"On 'Africa' you hear a combination of marimba with GS 1. The kalimba is all done with the GS 1; it's six tracks of GS 1 playing different rhythms. I wrote the song on CS-80, so that plays the main part of the entire tune."

Jeff Porcaro reminisces about how the song's drum track:

I was about 11 when the New York’s World Fair took place, and I went to the African pavilion with my family. I saw the real thing; I don't know what tribe, but there were these drummers playing, and my mind was blown.

The thing that blew my mind was everybody was playing one part. As a little kid in Connecticut, I would see these Puerto Rican and Cuban cats jamming in the park. It was the first time I witnessed someone playing one beat and not straying from it, like a religious experience, where it gets loud, and everyone goes into a trance. I have always dug those kind of orchestras, whether it be a band of all drummers. But I just love a band of guys saying one thing.

That's why I loved marching band, and I said, "Gee, someday there's going to be a little drum orchestra where everybody plays one thing, and you don't stray from it. You do it until you drop. You're banished from that land if you move from that one part.

So when we were doing "Africa", I set up a bass drum, snare drum and a hi-hat, and Lenny Castro set up right in front of me with a conga. We looked at each other and just started playing the basic groove.... The backbeat is on 3, so it's a half-time feel, and it's 16th notes on the hi-hat. Lenny started playing a conga pattern.

We played for five minutes on tape, no click, no nothing. We just played. And I was singing the bass line for "Africa" in my mind, so we had a relative tempo. Lenny and I went into the booth and listened back to the five minutes of that same boring pattern.

We picked out the best two bars that we thought were grooving, and we marked those two bars on tape. We made another mark four bars before those two bars. Lenny and I went back out; I had a cowbell, Lenny had a shaker.

They gave us two new tracks, and they gave us the cue when they saw the first mark go by. Lenny and I started playing to get into the groove, so by the time the that fifth bar came --which was the first bar of the two bars we marked as the cool bars we liked-- we were locked, and we overdubbed shaker and cowbell.

So there was bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, two congas, a cowbell, and a shaker. We went back in, cut the tape, and made a one-bar tape loop that went 'round and 'round and 'round. The Linn machine was available to us.

Maybe it would have taken two minutes to program that in the Linn, and it took about half an hour to do this. But a Linn machine doesn't feel like that! So we had an analog groove.

We took that tape, transferred it onto another 24-track for six minutes, and David Paich and I went out in the studio. The song started, and I was sitting there with a complete drumset, and Paich was playing. When he got to the fill before the chorus, I started playing the chorus, and when the verse or the intro came back, I stopped playing.

Then we had piano and drums on tape. You have to realize that there are some odd bars in "Africa", so when you have a one-bar loop going, all of a sudden, sometimes Lenny's figure would turn around.

So Lenny went in and played the song again, but this time he changed his pattern a little for the turn-arounds, for the fills, for the bridge, for the solo. We kept the original part and the new one.

Then we had to do bongos, jingle sticks, and big shakers doing quarter notes, maybe stacking two tracks of sleigh bells, two tracks of big jingle sticks, and two tracks of tambourine all down to one track.

I was trying to get the sounds I would hear Milt Holland or Emil Richards have, or the sounds I would hear in a "National Geographic" special, or the ones I heard at the New York World's Fair.