Toto guitarist and founding member Steve Lukather said the band’s 1983 hit “Africa” is the “gift that keeps on giving.”
“That song will not go away,” Lukather said in an interview with the Sun Herald.
And Lukather is right.
“Africa” has become a part of the pop culture landscape, from skit mentions on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” background music on the TV shows “Stranger Things” and “Scrubs” and even a video of the song made by Kristen Bell and Dax Sheppard when they were on vacation in Africa.
“This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “We were just doing it to have fun because we had the time and the dough to do it and we did it. We created ‘Africa’ from nothing and put all of these weird percussion tracks on it — we filled up four 24-track machines.”
The song was written by Toto members David Paich and former drummer, the late Jeff Porcaro.
“David had this great melody, but the lyrics, I thought, ‘Man, you have got be kidding me,’” Lukather said.
The lyrics, which included a line about Mount Kilimanjaro, were written by Paich, who had never been to Africa when the song was recorded.
“Somehow, we managed to get the word Serengeti into a pop song,” Lukather said. “I told them that if this song was a hit record, I would run naked down Hollywood Boulevard and no one wants to see that — this was a throwaway track.”
The song, which was a No. 1 hit for Toto, was also a No. 1 hit for the alternative rock band Weezer in the summer of 2018 — almost 40 years after its release.
A 14-year-old fan started a Twitter account encouraging the band to cover the song. iHeartRadio reports that Weezer responded with a cover of a different Toto hit, “Rosanna,” before giving in and covering “Africa.”
The cover of “Africa” went to No. 1 on Alternative Radio.
Toto answered back by covering Weezer’s “Hash Pipe.”
“We had no idea ‘Africa’ was going to become this big success for us,” Lukather said. “It’s like ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ 2018. The millennials are loving it and singing along to it at Panic at The Disco shows and they’ve created all of these memes — and you know what, I’ll take it. People would kill to have a record like that.”
Toto 40 Trips Around The Sun Tour
When: 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23
Where: Mobile Saenger Theater
Tickets: Start at $36 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.