Hailing from San Fernando Valley, California, Steve Lukather’s personality is as cool, calm, and collected as his iconic solos, riffs, and licks. Most know him as the backbone of AOR staples, Toto, whose classic songs include “Hold the Line,” “Africa,” and “Rosana,” making up just a tiny portion of a discography that’s amounted to 14 studio albums, several Grammy Awards, and 40 million records sold worldwide.
If we look beyond Toto, Lukather’s session work, which includes, but is not limited to, records like Boz Scaggs on 1977’s Down Two Then Left, Michael Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller, and Eric Clapton’s 1984 effort Around the Sun, might be even more impressive.
Those exploits aside, Lukather is still at it, releasing wonderful solo records, the latest of which is Bridges (2023), which harkens back to Toto’s sound and even features a few old friends in Joseph Williams, David Paich, Leland Sklar, Simon Phillips, and of course, Lukather’s son, Trev Lukather, who is a gifted guitarist and songwriter in his own right.
Given the breadth of his catalog and the myriad of styles he’s undertaken, it goes without saying that Steve Lukather’s listening habits are eclectic. To that end, during a break in the action, Steve Lukather beamed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to run through the ten albums that changed his life.
# 10 – Meet the Beatles by The Beatles (1964)
This was the “On” switch to my life. George Harrison’s solo on “I Saw Her Standing There” changed everything. I realize that for kids today, it would be way too easy, but at that time, there was no sound like it to my ears. But I wanted to make that noise. And then, there’s the songs on the whole record, which never get old—not ever!
# 9 – Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix (1967)
From the opening riff of “Purple Haze,” this record was akin to aliens landing in your backyard. It was simply mind-blowing, otherworldly music and sounds. I wore this record out. This album started my lifelong love of all things Jimi. No one sounded remotely close to this at the time or since, in my opinion.
# 8 – Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin (1969)
This came during the summer of 6th going into 7th grade for me. This was some new sound. I was heavy before we used that word to describe certain forms of music. Jimmy Page’s solos, riffs, and the bow were all “first-time” sounds for me. And really, the sounds on the whole album, like John Bonham’s drums and the unsung but genius ass and keyboard playing of John Paul Jones, and then you add Robert Plant singing the blues like no one before him, it was terrific.
# 7 – Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (1973)
It was hard to pick just one Pink Floyd record, as they all mean so much to me. David Gilmour is a lifelong hero, and he really hugely influenced my ears. His playing, guitar sounds, taste, feel, and note choices are all one of a kind. David is one of the few guys who can come on stage and hit one bend, and the crowd, all the way to the nosebleed seats, is on their feet screaming.
# 6 – Close to the Edge by Yes (1972)
This is the greatest prog-rock piece ever written, in my opinion. And man, Steve Howe was a hero of mine back then. There was no one like him, and the band was so tight. I saw them live many times in the old days and saw the Close to the Edge tour, too. They sounded just like the record, and man, there was no fakery possible than it was in the band, which was very cool. The live production, just everything, the live sound, the album sounds; all of it was insanely cool! This album is truly genius, and everyone shines on it. It’s timeless music!
# 5 – Yer’ Album by The James Gang (1969)
This is one of my Desert Island disks. It was so ahead of its time in every way. The writing and playing are great. And Jim Fox is on killer drums, and Tom Kriss is on bass for this one. And the amazing Bill Szymczyk’s sound and production are superb. That aside, Joe Walsh is a lifelong guitar hero of mine, and I loved this band and saw them every time they played L.A. This disk is also sonically way ahead of its time. It’s on fire!
# 4 – The Royal Scam by Steely Dan (1976)
This was a massive influence on me. I have loved every Steely Dan record, and the amazing writing, playing, and production are world-class—the best of the best players on every song. The biggest one was Larry Carlton on this record. I heard bebop kind of licks with a rock sound, which hit me like a ton of bricks. And Night Fly by Donald Fagan gets an honorable mention because it is just a legendary piece of work in every way.
# 3 – Birds of Fire by Mahavishnu Orchestra (1973)
This music was so intense that it scared me the first time I heard it. I had to wrap my head around the music, writing, and virtuosity. Seriously, no one sounded like this. John McLaughlin is a madman in the best sense of the word. Coming from a place no one had, the chops were off the charts. This was really pushing the boundaries at the time. Honorable mention to Return to Forever with Al DiMeola Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke, whom I saw live in 1975. Wow, that is all I gotta say regarding the fantastic compositions, soloing, etc.
# 2 – Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop by Jeff Beck (1989)
For starters, all of Jeff Beck’s records rule. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll go with it because this one is very special to me. Jeff’s playing had evolved into what we revered, and he was a one-of-a-kind player I watched up close many times. But Jeff Beck did not think, play, or sound like anyone else before him, and his shoes will never be filled. Jeff was the best of the best. Ask anyone.
# 1 – Van Halen by Van Halen (1978)
Like I have to explain this choice? This record changed everything! Like most on this list, Eddie was one of a kind, but Ed hit the scene, and everyone stopped. Here was a world-class rock band with great songs and a virtuoso on guitar in a way I and we had never heard before. Eddie was, is, and always will be a trailblazer who blew our minds, and the music was also fun!
Steve Lukather: 10 Albums That Changed My Life article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain Creative Commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are thumbnails for review purposes only utilized according to US Copyright Fair Use Laws. Any Amazon Affiliate links are the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.