I had to pleasure to speak to Kenny Aronoff about Steve Lukather. His list of sessions comes close to rivaling Luke's. Kenny told me about Luke: "Steve just likes to play. He is so talented it's AMAZING! He blows me away! It's an amazing gift. It's like the guitar is attatched to him. It's like the guitar isn't a piece of wood with strings, it's really a part of him. Playing guitar for Luke is just as natural as walking."
"We have a long history together. I think it goes back to the Belinda Carlisle record in the late '80's (Runaway horses). It was a day with Luke & John Pierce. We were just two good session players that hit it off together. We were in the thick of it".
I asked Kenny about the difference between studio & live playing with Luke. He told me: "In the studio we try to make it sound like it's live. But in the studio the artist & the producer dictate the sound that they want. Live, we get to stretch out & jam more. It becomes "our thing". We can jam more, experiment and arrange things".
I also asked Kenny about when Luke jams in these situations such as the Les Paul & Friends: 90th Birthday Salute, that he always seems to involve everyone there. Kenny told me: "Steve is a lover of people. He is humble to everyone. He just wants everyone to have a good time & be happy. Why be around unhappy people? He wants to share the spotlight with everyone no matter who they are. He's not threatened by anyone. He just wants everyone to have fun".
After the show I saw Kenny talking to Steves' son Trevor. I asked Kenny about Trevor and he said "Trevor is wonderful. He loves his dad. They have a great relationship. I've known him since he' been 9 years old."
Steve Lukather was a big part of the Les Paul & Friends: 90th Birthday Salute on February 7th 2006 at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, Ca. The event was to celebrate the musical contributions of Les Paul and to benefit "A Place Called Home". The first fireworks came as Luke lifted the slow starting gig to another level. The show was off to a very slow start due to technical difficulties and a plodding set thanks to movie actor/musician Steven Seagal. Luke was joined by Matt Bissonette (bass, Joe Satriani, Rick Springfield), Greg Matheson (keyboards) and Kenny Arronoff (drums, John Mellencamp, Melissa Etheridge, session ace) for their take on the Hendrix classic Little wing. This tune brought the crowd to it's feet. Surprisingly not everyone knew who Luke was but by the end of this night they sure did.
There was an "Odd Couple" reunion of sorts as Edgar Winter played Rick Derringers' Rock'n' roll hoochie koo along with Luke, Kenny Wayne Sheppard(guitar) & drummer supreme Vinnie Colaiuta (session ace, Faith Hill, Farnk Zappa). This turned out to be a really cool rendition of the classic 70's F.M rocker. Later in the night Luke & Edgar were joined by Slash (Guns 'n' Roses, Velvet Revolver) on guitar for another cool extended song, Stevie Wonder's Superstition. On this song Kenny Arronoff was back behind the drums & Edgar picked up the saxaphone on a song that brought everyone to it's feet. With his signature top hat Slash, jamming right along with Luke brought the energy level up to it's peak for the night. Luke played impromptu band leader as he guided the way throughout this classic #1 smash. There were numerous top notch moments with the highlights coming from Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Buddy Guy, Jerry Douglas, Allison Krauss, Neal Schon, Shayna Steele & Joe Satriani. Other musical moments came from Robben Ford, Switchfoot, Hubert Sumlin.
I did get a chance to talk to Matt Bissonette and he told me "the highlight of my night was getting the chance to play with Luke. I love the guy, he's great". The theme from everyone was their love for Les Paul and the importance of raising money for the kids.
Check out Kenny at kennyaronoff.com!
Stevelukather.com, February 2006