After ten years Jeff is still alive in the memory of people like Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Ferrone, Tris Imboden, Jim Keltner, Joe Porcaro, Paul Jamieson and of course Gregg Bissonette and Steve Lukather. Robyn Flans also published a couple of very interesting interview parts from his archive, where Jeff is talking about working with Steely Dan and Ricky Lee Jones and explaining the drum patterns of Lowdown, Hold the line, Georgie Porgy, Africa and Dirty laundry.

Steve Lukather

Steve Lukather turns out to be a real poet, as he made one of the coolest possible lyrics in memory of his all time friend Jeffrey Porcaro.

Steve Lukather says that a day doesn't go by that he doesn't think about Jeff Porcaro. "The thing about Jeff was how charismatic he was," Toto's guitarist insists. "He wasn't just a drummer. That's a given. But he was one of the best we've ever had. The pocket was so deep you just could not help but fall into it. Where Jeff put it, that's where it should be."

"It wasn't just a guy playing a groove," Lukather continues. "There was something intangible in his playing that you can't put into words. It was a presence, an aura if you will. When he walked into a room, it lit up - always. He was a magical person. He was an old soul that everyone wanted to be near. He was one of the most natural musicians I ever knew in my life. It was effortless to him and he was modest to a fault."

"Jeff and I were always at the rehearsals early," Steve says. "He was always there before me. I'd stand at the door and listen to him wailing in there, with unbelievable chops. I'd open the door and say: "Why the hell won't you do that in front of people?" He'd laugh and say: "It's all bullshit, man, it's all bullshit." I'd say: "No it is not, no one has ever heard you play like that." It was all this Buddy Rich and Vinnie stuff. He didn't want to show off, but when he'd hear something that was different, he'd want to know it."

"I remember when Gadd did the first Stuff record. Jeff and I were digging it at Jeff's house. I went back the next day, and he was still playing it, totally figuring it out. Any musician worth their weight in gold has that eternal quest. You never wake up one day and go: "Okay, now I know everything." You'll go to your grave trying to find the new note or the new groove."

"Jeff was a great teacher for me, too. I considered being around him like being around a master. He took me under his wing. I don't know why I was lucky enough to be that guy - well, one of those guys. He took a lot of people under his wing. He helped so many cats without guys even knowing it. He was always one to rave about someone else. He was the big brother I never had."

"We were the last generation of live rhythm-section dates. We had to play together to get a take, instead of this one-guy-at-a-time, fix it, fix it, fix it thing that they do today. And they used to call us slick and soulless. We sat in a room until we got a take. Nobody does that anymore. People are mistyfied by the concept."

"Rosanna was ridiculous when I first heard it. We were sitting, gettin ready to cut the track. Paich started playing on the piano - we never rehearsed, we'd show up at a session and go. "What are we gonna do today?" And whoever had a tune, we'd play it. Paich started playing, and Jeff started playing that groove - and we all went crazy. He said it was a take-off on John Bonham and Bernard Purdie."

"When you hear Jeff on the radio, you know it's him. He had an identity and his own unique style. Let's just face it, Jeff was the man. He was an artist as well - a painter and a sculptor. I have a couple of caricatures that he did of me that are pretty intense. There are some of Paich that are just jaw-droppingly funny. Jeff would sit in the studio while we were overdubbing and just draw cartoons of everybody."

"I miss him. I miss all the good times. Besides the music, I miss the man. Whenever I was in trouble or needed advice, he was the first phone call. Jeff must have been gotten a lot of those phone calls, because everybody looked up to him. Everybody loved him. He didn't have any enemies. Even cats he took work from loved him. No one could argue with the fact that Jeff was the man. Man, I can't believe it's been ten years."

Gregg Bissonette

In 1994 Gregg Bissonette temporarily took the place of Simon Phillips during the Toto Tambu tour. His memories of Jeffrey are concentrated on Rosanna. On his first solo album Gregg Bissonette he processed the intro of Rosanna in the drumsolo of the Edgar Winter classic Frankenstein.

"I remember the first time I heard Rosanna on the radio. I was driving to go hear Vinnie Colaiuta's band at the Flying Jib in Encino, and the song had just come out that day. Everybody was playing it. I remember getting to the club and the band was setting up, and percussionist Michael Fisher started playing his conga's to that kind of shuffle and said: 'How about that new Toto tune?' Everybody in the club - which was always packed with musicians - was talking about Jeff's feel and the shuffle. When I was a kid growing up, it was: 'Hey, can you play In a gadda da vida?' But it became: 'Hey, can you play Rosanna?' 'I don't think so, man, can you?' 'I don't think so.' That feel!"

"In 1994 Simon Phillips called and asked me to sub for Toto in Europe. As soon as I went into the intro of that tune, the whole arena went to their feet and freaked out. It was a worldwide groove that people recognized! The trickiest thing about playing that song live was that B section where it goes: 'Much quieter here since you went away,' that finger snap part. Jeff had this ability to pull it back ever so slightly and put it in this whole other place. I remember I called it the B section, but Mike Porcaro always called it the church section. 'We're going to church in this part.' That's how Jeff would think of it."



Modern Drummer, August 2002