"Hold The Line" was the first hit for "Toto," a band that formed in Van Nuys, California in 1977.

If the song had been written today, in the time of cell phones, it might have had a different title...as you will soon see!

David Paich (keyboards) and Jeff Porcaro (drums) had played together as session musicians on numerous albums...for bands including Steely Dan (with Jersey native Walter Becker), Seals & Crofts, Boz Scaggs, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Jackson Browne, and Michael McDonald....before deciding to form their own band.

Toto...inner sleeve art (Craig Allen photo).
Toto...1978 inner sleeve art (Craig Allen photo).

Since forming, there have been many lineup changes, but the 1977 Toto also included David Hungate on bass guitar, Steve Lukather on guitar, Steve Porcaro on keyboards, and Bobby Kimball on vocals.

Lukather and Steve Porcaro had been high school buddies, and were in the band "Rural Still Life" (later "Still Life").

Once the band came together, David Paich began working on the first album.

"Toto" 1978 radio promo (Craig Allen photo).
"Toto" 1978 radio promo (Craig Allen photo).

Popular myth has it that in the first recording sessions, Paich wrote "Toto" on the demo tapes, to differentiate them from tapes made by the other bands using the studio.

"Toto" 1978 back cover (Craig Allen photo).
"Toto" 1978 back cover (Craig Allen photo).

After finishing that first album, it is said that David Hungate saw "Toto" written on the tapes. He explained that, in Latin, "In Toto" means "all encompassing." As the band members had worked on so many different records, in many genres, they decided to take "Toto" as their own.

It is interesting to note that in the 1980's, some members told the media that the band name comes from the dog in "The Wizard Of Oz."

Fun Facts about the song, you ask...

"Hold The Line" quickly rose up the pop chart to #5 in early 1978!

Sing along...to the lyrics on the album sleeve! (Craig Allen photo).
Sing along...to the lyrics on the album sleeve! (Craig Allen photo).

Written by David Paich, with vocals by Bobby Kimball, the song deals with the issue of so many pop songs: love.

The title, the expression, "Hold The Line," in this case meaning to keep with the status quo...the singer urging the young woman to be patient...to stay in the relationship.

It has an even more literal meaning to its writer.

Before cell phones, it's what one person would tell another, before putting them on hold: "Hold the line."

In an online interview in 2015, Paich tells the story of being in high school, with the phone ringing a lot. "I was kind of juggling girlfriends, and that's how that came about."

Listen closely, and you will notice that many of the hit sing's lyrics start with the phrase "It's not."

David Paich explaining that once he hit upon the title, he decided to try to explain what love isn't: "It's not in the way you say you're mine...it's not in the way you say you care" (see lyrics above).

Toto was ahead of its time...making music videos years before MTV came about...MTV making videos a part of the music-making (and selling) process.

As you see above, the band made a simple video, with Lukather in suspenders.

With release of the popular self-named debut album, "Toto," the band earned a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

In early 1979, Toto would go on the road for the first time, touring to support the album.

As the 1980s rolled on, Toto would become one of the most successful bands of the decade.

In 2008, the last remaining original band member, Steve Lukather, decided to call it quits, saying: "I really can't go out and play 'Hold The Line' with a straight face anymore. I was 19 when we cut the record. I am 50 now."

But as is often the case in rock 'n' roll, it wasn't really the end...

Toto briefly reformed for a short European tour in 2010.

Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams reformed the band in 2014, releasing "Toto XIV" in 2015!

To date, Toto has released 17 albums, and sold 40 million albums (copies) worldwide!

What's the latest Toto news? Yes...they will be touring in our area late this summer...

Click HERE to visit their official site.....and then...Hold The Line!

Rock on, Toto...."and your little dog, too!"

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