Niagara Gazette — This weekend Toto and Michael McDonald will be performing across the border at the Niagara Fallsview Casino on Friday and Saturday night. They may sing a song or two together, but few people may realize that McDonald was almost Toto’s first lead singer.
During a recent phone interview, Toto founding member David Paich recalled the first time he heard McDonald sing.
“Jeff Porcaro told me about this great singer from St. Louis that was performing at a bowling alley. Mike was playing this little Wurlitzer right where they were setting up the pins, and then I heard this amazing voice. Next thing I knew he was playing in Steely Dan with Jeff and when we formed Toto, Jeff said we need to get him as our lead singer. I called Mike to be our lead singer and he had signed with the Doobie Brothers four days earlier.”
Toto almost landed another famous singer, Eric Martin of Mr. Big. When I interviewed Martin a few years ago, he related to me how disappointed he was that he didn’t land a gig with Toto.
“It came down to him and Joseph Williams and Eric has a great voice, but we were looking for someone that could sing our existing material. The band was divided, we took a band vote and Eric got some votes, he is an amazing talent and there are times I imagine what Toto would have sounded like with him. I would make music with him anytime.”
Paich also helped clear up a mystery surrounding the song “Rosanna.” During an interview in 1988, that is still available on YouTube, Paich said the song was not about actress Rosanna Arquette.
“I was writing the song at my house in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and I roomed with Steve Porcaro and he had just met Rosanna Arquette after most of the song had been written and I just tagged her name in the song. While the song may not be about her, the name came from her and I may have had a crush on her at the time. That is the true story.”