- Apr 01, 1954
- Aug 05, 1992
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Jeffrey Thomas Porcaro (/pɔːrˈkɑːroʊ/; April 1, 1954 – August 5, 1992) was an American drummer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for his work with the rock band Toto, but is one of the most recorded session musicians, working on hundreds of albums and thousands of sessions. While already an established studio player in the 1970s, he came to prominence in the United States as the drummer on the Steely Dan album Katy Lied.
AllMusic has characterized him as “arguably the most highly regarded studio drummer in rock from the mid-’70s to the early ’90s”, and says that “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.” He was posthumously inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1993.
Jeffrey Thomas Porcaro was born on April 1, 1954, in Hartford, Connecticut, the eldest son of Los Angeles session percussionist of Italian descent Joe Porcaro (1930-2020) and his wife, Eileen. His younger brother Mike was a successful bassist and was a member of the band Toto. Younger brother Steve is still a studio musician and member of Toto. Porcaro was raised in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles and attended Ulysses S. Grant High School.
Porcaro began playing drums at the age of seven. Lessons came from his father Joe Porcaro, followed by further studies with Bob Zimmitti and Richie Lepore. When he was seventeen, he got his first professional gig playing in Sonny & Cher’s touring band. He later called Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon his idols at that time. During his twenties, Porcaro played on hundreds of albums, including several for Steely Dan. He toured with Boz Scaggs before co-founding Toto with his brother Steve and childhood friends Steve Lukather and David Paich. Jeff Porcaro is renowned among drummers for the drum pattern he used on the Grammy Award-winning Toto song “Rosanna”, from the album Toto IV. The drum pattern, called the Half-Time Shuffle Groove, was originally created by drummer Bernard Purdie, who called it the “Purdie Shuffle.” Porcaro created his own version of this groove by blending the aforementioned shuffle with John Bonham’s groove heard in the Led Zeppelin song “Fool in the Rain”. Porcaro describes this groove in detail on a Star Licks video (now DVD) he created shortly after “Rosanna” became popular.
Besides his work with Toto, he was also a highly sought session musician. Porcaro collaborated with many of the biggest names in music, including George Benson, Tommy Bolin, Larry Carlton, Eric Carmen, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Christopher Cross, Miles Davis, Dire Straits, Donald Fagen, Stan Getz, David Gilmour, James Newton Howard, Al Jarreau, Elton John, Leo Sayer, Greg Lake, Rickie Lee Jones, Paul McCartney, Michael McDonald, Bee Gees, Sérgio Mendes, Jim Messina, Pink Floyd, Lee Ritenour, Diana Ross, Boz Scaggs, Seals and Crofts, Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan, Barbra Streisand, Richard Marx, Don Henley, David Foster, Donna Summer, Frankie Valli and Joe Walsh. Porcaro contributed drums to four tracks on Michael Jackson’s Thriller and also played on the Dangerous album hit “Heal the World”. He also played on 10cc’s …Meanwhile (1992). On the 1993 10cc Alive album, recorded after his death, the band dedicated “The Night That the Stars Didn’t Show” to him.
Richard Marx dedicated the song “One Man” to him and said Porcaro was the best drummer he had ever worked with. Michael Jackson made a dedication to Porcaro in the liner notes for his 1995 album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I.
Porcaro died at Humana Hospital-West Hills on the evening of August 5, 1992, at the age of 38, after falling ill while spraying insecticide in the yard of his Hidden Hills home. […]
Jeff Porcaro played drums on the duet between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, “The Girl Is Mine”, and on the “Silly Love Songs” version for the “Give My Regards To Broad Street” movie.
During the recording of [Toto’s new album] Isolation, Jeff [Porcaro] and Luke [Steve Lukather] got called by Paul McCartney to work on his Give My Regards To Broad Street project. [David] Paich says he got a very excited call from Jeff from England. Jeff had played the basic track for “Mr. Friendly” for Paul, which had no vocal, and Paul started a vocal improv, making up words as he went along, “like he would on ‘Twist And Shout,'” Paich says. “Jeff said he wished he had had a tape recorder because it was as if Paul McCartney was Toto’s lead singer.”From “It’s About Time – Jeff Porcaro” by Robyn Flans
Last updated on August 5, 2021