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Music

How the kindness of George Harrison changed Steve Lukather's life

@josephtaysom

Steve Lukather has been a touring member of Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band since 2012, a position that arrived as a dream come true for the Toto singer, who grew up hero-worshipping the ground that The Beatles walked on. On top of that enviable achievement, he shared an unforgettable experience at the hands of George Harrison, a moment that best exhibits the kind of human he was.

Toto formed after a group of successful session musicians decided that they were tired of playing for other people and, instead, decided to put their stellar talents together. Throughout the late 1970s and early ’80s, they were at their commercial height before tragedy struck in 1992 when they lost their drummer, Jeff Porcaro.

In memory of Porcaro, the band put on a concert in tribute to him. The show was flooded with some of the most revered names to have ever been in the rock ‘n’ roll business. A testament to the regard he was held in by his peers. The evening to remember took place at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles with Eddie Van Halen, David Crosby, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, and countless others all coming out to show their support for the late drummer.

Remarkably, the night before the event, Lukather would see George Harrison in a club and believed it was the workings of fate. He’d collaborated with Paul McCartney before, but Harrison was his hero, and he couldn’t have lived with himself if he didn’t chance his arm to speak with him. After he managed to broker a conversation with the Beatle, Harrison invited him for a drink, and that next hour they spent has left an impression on Lukathur for the rest of his life.

“He’s the reason I play guitar,” Lukather reminisced about Harrison and his initial reaction to breathing in the same air as his hero. “It was a freakish thing. It’s sort of as if it was meant to be,” he pontificated, adding: “I had a drink or two, I loosened up a bit, and said, ‘I don’t want to be that guy, but I play music because of you. The first thing that hit me hard was your solo on ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. I must have worn that out by just picking up the needle playing it’.”

When the club closed its doors for the night, Lukather, who was well lubricated. In the spur of the moment, he decided to tell Harrison about the tribute night the following evening. Before they parted ways, he told him about their grand plans to close the show a cover of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, and there’d be tickets with his name on it if he wanted to head down. 

Harrison didn’t promise that he would attend, and in truth, Lukather had no expectations of him arriving, but, much to his surprise, in the dressing room before the show, his new friend tapped him on his shoulder and even joined them during the final song of the set. “It was the loudest scream that I’ve ever heard in my life,” Lukather remembered. “It was magic, and then after that, we exchanged numbers, we’d hang out, go to dinner, and stuff.”

It could have been easy for Harrison to simply ignore the request and get on with his night, but that simply wasn’t in his DNA. However, not in Lukather’s wildest dreams did he think that The Beatles guitarist would accept his invitation and perform with him the following night. That chance meeting was the start of a beautiful friendship that led to him meeting Ringo Starr and playing in the All-Star Band today.

Listen to audio from their performance together below.