5 Songs You Didn’t Know Toto’s Steve Lukather Wrote for Other Artists

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Mostly well-known for his work with Toto since the band’s inception in 1977, guitarist Steve Lukather’s parallel work as a session player has placed him on more than 1,500 albums in over 40 years.

Crossing jazz, rock, R&B, and more with his versatile guitar work, Lukather has played for everyone from Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Earth, Wind & Fire, Warren Zevon, Joni Mitchell, and many others. Collaborating with Quincy Jones in the early ’80s, he and most of his Toto bandmates even appeared on a majority of Michael Jackson’s 1983 album, Thriller, with Lukather playing guitar alongside Eddie Van Halen’s iconic “Beat It” solo, Steve Porcaro (who also co-wrote “Human Nature”) on synthesizer and late band member Jeff Porcaro (1954-1992) on drums.

In addition to his session work, producing and touring with other artists, Lukather also had a hand in writing a collection of songs within Toto’s catalog from the second album, Hyrda, in 1979 through their final 2018 release, Old Is New.

Officially joining Ringo Star’s All-Starr Band in 2012, Lukather also released his eighth solo album, I Found the Sun Again, in 2021.

Over the decades, Lukather also wrote for other artists—everyone from Olivia Newton-John, Alice Cooper, and another Toto bandmate.

Here are five more songs Lukather penned outside of Toto and his solo catalog since 1978.

1. “Serious,” Alice Cooper (1978)
Written by Steven Lukather, Alice Cooper, Bernie Taupin, David Foster

From the Inside was Alice Cooper‘s concept album, a narrative of a stay at a New York asylum while struggling to get sober. From the Inside, featured a collection of songs written by Cooper and Elton John’s musical partner Bernie Taupin, based on experiences and actual people he met at the asylum. A handful of other writers contributed, including Lukather, who co-wrote “Nurse Rozetta” and “Serious,” along with Cooper, Taupin, and the album’s producer, David Foster.

When I look back at my time at the track
And I played, and I played, and I played, and I was
Shooting the craps at the back of Fat Jack´s
Come on, fade me, Jake
I’m a Las Vegas dreamer they took to the cleaners
A bath, what a bath, what a bath I’d take
A fish on a hook, I was rattled and shook, ’cause I lost my stake
I took that serious

2. “Talk To Ya Later,” The Tubes (1981)
Written by Steve Lukather, Prairie Prince, John Waldo “Fee” Waybill, David Foster

Off The Tubes’ fifth album, The Completion Backward Principle, “Talk to Ya Later,” was one of two songs Lukather would write for the band. Produced by David Foster, the album was a success for The Tubes, who had just signed to Capitol and appeared in the iconic Olivia Newton-John musical film Xanadu a year earlier. The opening track “Talk to Ya Later” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and was even covered by Richard Marx in 1997.

I met her on a strip
It was another lost weekend
The band was too slick
And the people were twisted
So I asked her for a date
She reluctantly agreed
Then we went to my place
And she never did leave
She won’t even miss me when she’s gone
That’s okay with me

I’ll cry later on

Lukather later co-wrote another hit for the band, “She’s a Beauty,” along with producer David Foster and Tubes singer Fee Waybill. Released in 1983 on the band’s sixth album, Outside Inside, “She’s a Beauty” became the band’s biggest charting hit, reaching No. 10 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on Mainstream Rock Tracks charts.

3. “Turn Your Love Around,” George Benson (1981)
Written by Steve Lukather, Bill Champlin, Jay Graydon

Released on George Benson‘s 1981 compilation album (The George Benson Collection), “Turn Your Love Around,” co-written with Lukather and Chicago’s Jay Graydon won the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1983. Late Toto drummer Joe Porcaro and Lukather (on keyboards) also appear on the track along with Graydon on backing vocals. The idea for the song came to Graydon at a very inopportune moment—while Graydon was using the bathroom. Quickly recording what he could on a cassette recorder, he called on Lukather and Champlin to help him work out the rest of the song.

“Lukather came over and I said, ‘Luke, I gotta come up with the song in two days. I’ve got a great chorus here, come up with a verse,'” remembered Graydon. “And I jump in the shower, I get out of the shower and I come down and he had the verse. The next day we called Champlin, and I said, ‘Bill, get over here. We need a lyric, and we need a bridge. Let’s get this thing done.’ And that’s how ‘Turn Your Love Around’ came about.”

The song was demoed that same night, and Benson recorded it the next day. ‘The record company got a copy,” said Graydon. “Everybody loved the song. We recorded it, and that was it.”

Champlin later covered ‘Turn Your Love Around” on his 1994 solo album Through It All.

I’m tryin’ to show how much I love you
Still believing in romance
You’re taking way too many chances with my love

I remember when you used to be
The talk of the town
All you get is lonely

4.”Take a Chance,” Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta (1983)
Written by Steve Lukather, Olivia Newton-John, David Foster

Produced and co-written by David Foster, Steve Lukather, and the late Olivia Newton-John also had a hand in writing “Take a Chance.” Originally recorded for Newton-John’s iconic 1981 album, Physical, the song was later released on the 2021 deluxe edition and features Newton-John’s Grease co-star John Travolta, who also appears in the music video.

Reunited with “Danny Zucko” (Travolta) and looking much like her “bad” Sandy Olsson character in the video, directed by David Mallet (David Bowie, Queen, Rush), Newton-John is dressed in a Grease-like skin-tight black leather (skirt) for the softer rock ballad.

Could it be we’re the perfect pair? 
Have it all if we’d only dare 
I have dreamed of a night like this 
Maybe you will end my loneliness 
Meeting you was a dangerous thing

 
Can’t control what is happening 
Stood my ground, didn’t run away 
Trying hard to hide that I’m so afraid 
Take a chance, take a chance 

5. “This Fall,” Joseph Williams (2008)
Written by Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams

Like many of his previous solo albums, Joseph Willams, who fronted Toto from 1986 through 1988 and again from 2010 through 2019, worked with his old bandmates Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, and Bobby Kimball for his 2008 album This Fall.

Lukather also co-wrote the title track with Williams for the album, his first with original material since 1997 release 3, and contributes guitar on several tracks. Williams, who also worked as a film and television composer throughout his career, recorded with Toto on their 14th and final album, Old Is New, released in 2018.

Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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