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BTTF# 29: Toto's Van Nuys Garage that Created Musical Legends and A Small Tribute to Mike Porcaro


Marty McFly here to take you on a special journey to explore the former garage that started the careers of the legendary 80's band, Toto, located at 13608 Valleyheart Drive Sherman Oaks (commonly referred to as Van Nuys. Note: this address is unconfirmed which I will explain below).  The Delorean has the required plutonium plus some random garbage in the Mr. Fusion reactor ready for this trip. The time circuits are set to sometime in the late 60's to early 70's and the flux capacitor is......fluxxing. The engine is running (not stalled this time) so we need to hurry. Hang on, as the ride can be a little bumpy as we travel back in time.

In the late 60's to early 70's, the Porcaro brothers consisting of drummer Jeff (b. 1954), bassist Mike (b. 1955), and keyboardist Steve (b. 1957) learned their musical craft under their father, Joe, who was a noted session percussionist. They all attended Grant High School on Oxnard St in what was then Van Nuys or today's Valley Glen.

They were actually born in South Windsor, Connecticut but at some point moved to the SFV where they were raised. One notable location is 13608 Valleyheart Drive with the lovely LA River in their backyard where Joe converted the family's garage into a musical studio.  The Van Nuys garage was instrumental in starting the careers of the Porcaro brothers as well as fellow friends that practiced after school everyday to perfect their musical skills.

There is very little anecdotal information or even pictures that I can find about the garage except for a small mention by Jeff's Grant High classmate, Mercy Baron, at the toto99.com site who stated, "I algo got to hang at the Porcaro household and jam with his brothers and his dad when they lived on Valleyheart Dr. in Sherman Oaks." To confirm that Mercy Baron's statement was legitimate, I found an August 17, 1992 LA Times article by Sam Enriquez titled, Rock 'n' Roll High School: Van Nuys: The Death of Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro prompts Grant Alumni to Reminisce About a Campus Bursting with Musical Talent in the Early 70's, which quoted Mercy Baron describing Jeff in high school as a tribute after he suddenly died in August 1992.

The key address information provided by Baron was confirmed on another site at guitars101.com by a poster named "joe_schmoe"who stated that "The Porcaros most famous house house was the one in Sherman Oaks on Valleyheart but when they first moved to L.A., the Porcaros lived on Milbank near Studio City park" (I wasnt able to find the Studio City house).

So the next challenge was finding the actual street number based on the information above which I was able to find through online research databases but I wasnt able to confirm ownership because online property records typically dont go back to the 70's/80's when Joe Porcaro owned the home. My guess is that Joe purchased sometime in the 70's and sold in the early 80's to the current owners who have been long time owners that I am not able to confirm when they purchased. So at this time, the address is not confirmed but there is a good chance this is correct based on the strong evidence referencing Valleyheart Drive mentioned above.

There is nothing grand about the house as it measures 3 Beds/2 Baths on 2,298 sqft on a total lot size of 0.37 acres built in 1947. As I mentioned before, the garage was converted to a music studio which still exists till this day as a converted garage but not sure if anything from the music studio remains. If it did, that would be awesome! While the house seems ordinary and is your typical SFV ranch home, it was once bustling with musical activity and legends were being bred. Would have loved to be a fly on that wall. The LA Times article mentioned above provided a small glimpse of the Porcaro home,
"We played at the Porcaros' every day after school, said Steve Lukather, 34, Toto guiarist and a respected studio session veteran. "Jeff's dad was a top percussionist and his enthusiasm rubbed off on everybody. He was always saying, 'Come on, guys,' and make sure the guys were practicing."
And another quote from Jolene Porcaro Duddy (sister of Porcaro borthers) at totoweb.net:
The TOTO boys were a part of my life for many years, long before they were "TOTO". Everyday when I would come home from grammar school and middle school, the boys were in our garage rehearsing. First it was Jeff & Paich's band, RURAL STILL LIFE and then Steve and Luke's band, STILL LIFE. I was always allowed to hang with them if my friends and I kept quiet! As I approached middle school, Jeff and Mike were starting to tour with various artists and recorded on many albums as well. I missed them so much but was so lucky to still have Steve P living at home. I literally would fall asleep every night to Still Life rehearsing. By the time I hit high school, all three boys were gone on the road. For my 16th birthday, they surprised me and took me out on the road with them for a weekend of music festivals. They were all playing with Boz Scaggs. My three bros and my other two, Paich & Luke. A weekend that I will never forget! They opened for Elton John & Kiki Dee!!! When they finally formed TOTO, I was a senior in high school and before their first album was released, I had already gotten a personalized license plate for my car -TOTOFAN !
By 1972, Jeff got his big break and was signed on to work with Sonny and Cher immediately after graduation. During his 20's, he played on hundreds of albums including several for Steely Dan and touring with Boz Scaggs. In 1977, Jeff began discussing with David Paich (who attended Grant and Chaminade High) the possibility of starting a band which he formed with brother, Steve, guitarist Steve Lukather, and bassist, David Hungate.

Image courtesy Best Classic Bands
The rest is as they say history as Toto would go on to release 17 albums selling over 35 million albums at the time of this writing. The band has won several Grammys and was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009. They are best known for their 80's hit songs "Africa," "Rosanna," and "Hold the Line" which are shown below.

Its now time to jump into the Delorean and head back to the future to check out the former Porcaro garage that started the legendary Toto band.



On a related note, this post was written as a small tribute to Mike Porcaro who passed away on March 15, 2015 at the age of 50 due to a long battle with ALS. Mike joined in 1983 as the bassist and played until 2007 when ALS started to affect his playing ability.

And on another related note, I cant end without talking about the current homes of Toto band members starting with David Paich who owns a double lot mansion in Calabasas and was previously living in Sherman Oaks.

Steve Lukather lives in Studio City that has been possibly owned since 1979.

David Hungate currently lives in Nashville but I wasnt able to find his SFV locations so I am guessing he left a long time ago.

Mike Porcaro lived in Valley Village where his wife still resides and was previously living in North Hollywood.

Steve Porcaro lives in Valley Village and was previously living in a Sherman Oaks home.

Jeff Porcaro was living in Hidden Hills. His wife, Susan, married the CEO of Tupperware, Everett Vernon Goings and relocated to Windmere, Florida.

You can view more SFV Back to the Future here

"Africa"

"Rosanna." A young Patrick Swayze can be seen in the music video for "Rosanna" who also happened to be a Sylmar resident. 

Hold the Line

Sources:

Toto99 site.....Mercy Baron mention of Valleyheart Drive

August 17, 1992 LA Times article by Sam Enriquez titled, Rock 'n' Roll High School: Van Nuys: The Death of Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro prompts Grant Alumni to Reminisce About a Campus Bursting with Musical Talent in the Early 70's,

Guitars 101 site mentioning Valleyheart Drive

Drummer World article about Jeff Porcaro

TMZ article for Mike Porcaro's death

Best Classic Bands article for Jeff Porcaro

Totoweb.ent

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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