Van Halen released their groundbreaking debut album in 1978 and it was the start of a tremendous career, which not only resulted in millions of records sold worldwide, but also was the inspiration for musicians who would appear in the following years and decades. The driving force of the group formed in Pasadena, California was the guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who impressed the world with what he could do with a guitar in his hands.
He quickly became one of the most praised guitarists in the world and was always in touch with his peers. Until his death in 2020 at the age of 65, Eddie talked a lot about other artists and bands, including Toto, which had one of his dearest friends, the guitarist Steve Lukather. He once even revealed which Toto album he thought was brilliant.
The Toto album that Eddie Van Halen said was brilliant
Van Halen was formed in 1972 but only had the chance to release their debut album six years later. Curiously, it was in the same year that Toto released their famous debut record. However, their work that Eddie Van Halen called brilliant was the record “Kingdom of Desire” (1992), the last one to feature the late drummer Jeff Porcaro.
He said that in an interview with Guitar FTPM magazine in 1993 when Lukather and Eddie interviewed each other. After the Toto guitarist talked about the album, Van Halen said: “It’s a brilliant record. I think if (radio plays) it people will like it. For five years you haven’t had a record out here. The music you’re making, to me, is light years beyond the shit you hear on the radio. (…) If people only knew you guys were the real shit. Everyone else is faking it,” Eddie Van Halen said.
“Kingdom of Desire” was the eighth studio album released by Toto. It was also the first album that Lukather sang lead vocals in all the tracks. At the time Toto was formed by Lukather (Guitar), David Paich (Piano, organ, synthesizers), Mike Porcaro (Bass) and Jeff Porcaro (Drums). There were several guest musicians who appeared on the album. Some of them were Steve Porcaro, Jim Keltner, Joe Porcaro, John Fogerty and Billy Sheerwood.
The beginning of Lukather’s friendship with Eddie
Lukather and Eddie became friends after they met each other in a festival in 1978. Toto and Van Halen were playing on the same day. After that first encounter they hung out frequently over the years, even visiting each other in the studio when they were working on something.
Eddie used to show the Toto guitarist many Van Halen tracks before it was even recorded. One of the most incredible moments that Lukather often remembers it’s when Eddie showed him the keyboard riff for the smash hit “Jump”.
In an interview with Kylie Olsson in 2021, Lukather recalled Eddie. The guitarist said: “He was a dear friend of mine, I miss him terribly everyday. 40 years like that (close to each other).”
During the same conversation he talked about recording Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, which also had Van Halen’s guitar solo. After the song was done he recalled he called his friend and joked “Well, I guess you are a studio musician now too”. He said that Eddie said his brother Alex was really mad at him at the time. Because they were not supposed to record with other artists.
Lukather made that joke because besides being Toto’s guitarist he is also one of the most successful studio guitarists of all time. He recorded with many incredible artists over the years like Lionel Richie, Olivia-Newton-John and Ringo Starr.