We’re saddened by the loss of a true drumming icon. Joe Porcaro died in his sleep surrounded by his wife and family. Joe was a drummer who recorded with decades of musical superstars and contributed percussion to his sons’ band, Toto, including on their hit song “Africa.” Joe played for countless stars over his career and his playing will continue to inspire drummers of all walks of life for generations.
Jazz, rock, and pop
Porcaro was a sought-after session drummer, and he recorded with greats across genres for more than 40 years. Among the artists whose records include Porcaro’s drumming are Rosemary Clooney (1928 – 2002), Nancy Sinatra, Glenn Campbell (1936 – 2017), the Rolling Stones, Stan Getz (1927 – 1991), Donna Summer (1948 – 2012), Pink Floyd, and Madonna. In addition, he played on hundreds of film and television scores. Porcaro was the father of Jeff (1954 – 1992), Mike (1955 – 2015), and Steve Porcaro, who formed the rock band Toto. Porcaro contributed percussion to six of their albums, including their Grammy-winning 1982 smash hit “Toto IV.” His bass marimba helped drive the enduringly popular track “Africa.” Porcaro also led the jazz ensemble the Joe Porcaro Quartet, and he was a drum instructor.
Porcaro on his style as a drummer
“I’m not really wild about solos, but if a drum solo is musical, it can be beautiful… I like to feel I’m the backbone of the rhythm section but I don’t want to be a drummer who just keeps time for everybody. It all depends on what the rest of the rhythm section is like. When everybody is playing time the same way, I like to get loose and stretch out a little bit.” —from a 1978 interview with Modern Drummer