R.I.P. Jeff Porcaro: Five of the Legendary Toto Drummer's Best Songs and How They've Been Sampled, on the 19th Anniversary of his Death
People say that even without Toto, Jeff Porcaro would've cemented his place in music history because of the high caliber of his drumming. It's said to have defined much of the music produced in the late '70s and '80s. Born into a musical family, he toured and/or recorded with Sonny and Cher as a teenager, then went on to play with Seals and Crofts, Boz Scaggs, and Steely Dan before forming the hit group Toto.
Porcaro was always viewed as one of the music industry's best drummers; his sense of rhythm was impeccable, and he was so versatile he could play anything. According to Discogs.com, he's recorded on about 279 albums for artists such as Madonna, Michael Jackson (he played drums on "Thriller" and "Beat It"), Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Abba, the Bee Gees, Hall & Oates, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Elton John and more. His name has also become synonymous with a certain half-time shuffle groove--the "Rosanna shuffle."
In 1992 he died of a heart attack at 37 years old. To this day, various drummers, MCs, DJs and musicians search Porcaro's work for inspiration. After the jump, check out the list of songs that sample his work--it proves Porcaro is still very much relevant, 19 years after his death.
1. Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
Apparently, several members of Toto were involved in the recording and production of Thriller--the song "Human Nature" was originally intended to be a Toto song.
Here's "Thriller" as sampled by Far East Movement in "Dance Like Michael Jackson"
2. Janne Schaffer's "It's Never Too Late"
In 1978 the Swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer teamed up with Jeff Porcaro and members of his family to produce tracks for his solo album Earmeal.
"It's Never Too Late" has been sampled by various hip-hop groups such as Lady of Rage and Boogie Down Productions. Here's "Like a Throttle" by Boogie Down Productions--a hip-hop group that was originally composed of KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock.
3a. Toto's "Africa"
Arguably Toto's most recognizable song, "Africa" went to No. 1 on the Billboard Charts in February 1983, but was almost cut from the Toto IV record because the band spent so much time producing the song, they got tired of it and didn't want it on the album.
While it's been sampled by everyone from Justice to Prodigy, here's Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y's "Huey Newton":
3b. Toto's "Waiting for Your Love"
Pretty classic Toto, this is 3b because it's a perfect example of how Porcaro's crisp and precise playing made his beats a natural backdrop for various hip-hop songs. As his Allmusic bio says, "It is no exaggeration to say that the sound of mainstream pop/rock drumming in the 1980s was, to a large extent, the sound of Jeff Porcaro."
Here's Shade Sheist's "Where I Wanna Be," featuring Nate Dogg and Kurupt, a good precursor to the next item on our list.
4. Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin'"
Michael McDonald recorded this song as a duet with his sister Maureen for If That's What It Takes, his first solo album after splitting with the Doobie Brothers. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and No. 7 on the R&B chart.
It was then heavily sampled by Warren G and Nate Dogg in the song "Regulate."
5. Boz Scaggs's "Lowdown"
"Lowdown" was recorded in 1976 by Boz Scaggs for the album Silk Degrees and was co-written by David Paich. Paich and Porcaro would later form Toto.
Snoop Dogg just recently sampled this song in "Wonder What I Do" from his latest set, Doggumentary.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.