Rick Beato’s Steve Lukather Interview Summary

This post contains my summary notes from Rick Beato’s interview with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather.

They discuss Steve’s session work, coming up with parts on the spot, recording and writing music with Toto and dissect a few of Steve’s guitar solos.

Full interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuCscgfbtw4

Summary Notes

Coming up with parts on the spot (3:08)

“That was the job, you had to have an arranger’s ear. Showing off your chops was an afterthought. You had to take a G, E, Bm, D and turn it into something. They expected us to come up with our parts. We had knack for it, we could play in time, in tune, and our instincts were usually pretty correct…”

Steve has a big appreciation for extended fade outs in songs, where the band would just jam. Loved that from the records of his youth.

Guitar solo in “Running With The Night” by Lionel Richie (4:45)

Rick Beato ranked this solo as his number one underrated guitar solo of all time.

“I was just noodling man. I thought that was a rundown, they recorded it and I said okay, let’s do it, and they said no, you’re done. I said, I played all over that, it’s too much, you’re gonna edit that shit out right…?”

Guitar solo in “I Won’t Hold You Back” by Toto (6:35)

“When we went to cut the song, I didn’t have a bridge at all. So I sat down at the piano and just wrote it on the spot. Presented it to the band, they thought I had it all along. And I figured I’ll play the guitar melody over it, it would be dramatic. I must have written it (the bridge) in 30 seconds…”

“When you gotta come up with something, you better come up with something, that’s it…”

Guitarists Steve loves (9:20)

“Larry Carlton’s work on Steely Dan. Playing through changes with a rock sound…that really sucked me in. All the guitar players in Steely Dan played something unique and interesting, something we learned from, quirky wonderful solos…”

Big fan of: Dean Park’s solo on Steely Dan’s “Haitian Divorce”. Jay Graydon’s solo on Steely Dan’s “Peg”.

Skills modern guitarists lack (11:00)

“Never played the clubs, never slogged it out there, play gigs where 3 people show up, honing the chops, still believing the dream even when you’re getting your nuts kicked in every night, until it starts to build into something, find the right group of guys, write a great song, and you got something, try to perfect that and get noticed…”

“I played for 14 years before I got into a real recording studio…”

Tracking songs with Toto (16:00)

“Show up in studio, Paich plays his song on piano, Hungate writes out a quick chord chart, and we’re running the tune. Take 2 or 3, and that’s the record. We’ll do overdubs, beef up the tracks (double the guitars) and that’s a song. We’ve always recorded that way…”

70s Jazz guys vs upcoming 80s rock guys (21:40)

“We were different from the 60s and 70s jazz guys – we could play their stuff but we were rock guys. I played on a Les Paul through a Marshall…”

“When I started out I had a Fender amp and a Gibson 335, all the right gear to be a session player, but when I started not doing that is when I started to make a little bit more noise…”

“We didn’t look like the guys that would wear suits and play jazz clubs at night – people liked our youthful energy, Jeff Porcaro was our fearless leader…”

Steve’s favorite solo of his (24:15)

Played on Toto’s “21st Century Blues”.

“It’s my best Larry Carlton, it’s moving through changes, has my bluesy rock thing to it, it was written with me doing a homage to Larry and to Steely Dan, it’s a very Steely shuffle thing…”

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