Steve Lukather on the Journey Through his Iconic Sessions

Legendary guitarist Steve Lukather is also known for his exceptional session work. His versatile talent has graced countless recordings across various genres, making him a sought-after collaborator among renowned artists and producers. MetalTalk’s Kahmel Farahani spoke with Luke about some legendary sessions.

Back On The Road – Earth Wind & Fire

“Oh, Jeez,” Steve laughs. “Another of those one-takers. That was like the early ’80s, and that was fun. They’re one of my favourite bands of all time, so to get the call to do that. I actually heard that it pissed off Al McKay, the guitarist who wrote the song, who I’ve known since I was 17 years old.”

“They called me into play, then people were going up to Al later on and going ‘man, that solo sounds great’, and he would turn around and go ‘fucking Lukather.” [laughs].

“Unfortunately, I used to do that to guys, and I didn’t mean to. It happened with The Tubes and a few other bands.”

The Tubes – Talk To Ya Later

“I knew their producer, David Foster and Free Waybill and I were friends,” Steve said. “The first song we wrote together was Talk To Ya Later which was their first hit. I played everything on that, guitar and bass, because their bass player Rick wouldn’t play on it because he didn’t write it.”

“Within an hour myself, David Foster and Free had the song done, and the rest of the band weren’t so happy about it. Then it was a big hit, and the same team did the same thing on the follow-up single She’s A Beauty. I don’t think they give a fuck now [laughs]. But at the time, some of the band were miffed.

“But sometimes I used to be that guy who got hired because the guy in the band couldn’t play the part when the red light [to record] went on. So I hated when I had to show up and play, and the guy would be there staring at me. ‘Why did you tell him to come? Fuck, man’. I would tell them you should be doing this. I don’t mean to take your job. I’m not that guy.”

Chicago – Hard To Say I’m Sorry

“Again, David Foster was the producer,” Steve says. “It’s funny they don’t seem to like mentioning that one much. I saw their documentary, and they sure as hell didn’t mention me, even though I’m playing all the guitars on their comeback record [Chicago 16]. What can I say? I’m used to it. I always gave my best with those guys.”

Santana and Jeff Beck – Lotusflower gig

“That was a one-off gig in Japan,” Steve says. “That was a dream come true for me. Jeff and I became really good friends after that and worked together a bunch. 

“But that gig was a trip for me because there were no rehearsals or anything. It was just go on and jam. It was so loud that was the night I got tinnitus. I haven’t heard silence since 1986. It was fun to do, but it was so fucking loud. I was still in my 20s when that happened.”

It’s so sad that we’ve lost Jeff Beck now, I say. “I last saw him in July (2022),” Steve says. “I gave him a hug, and we talked. We were really close friends for a long time. Then we worked together on a record that never came out that I produced then his management got a little weird. He’s one of my all-time heroes and to watch him create the way he did because he refused to do it in the standard way. 

“Even approaching the simplest melody, he would find the weirdest way in the world to do it. Only he could do that. There’s only one, and he was it. 

“I’m really glad I had that positive reunion with him last July. He was with Johnny Depp, who’s a really sweet guy too. I’m getting to that age where every day above ground is good.” [laughs].

Cher

“I’ve known Cher since I was 12 years old,” Steve says. “My father was in the movie business, and he did a movie with Sonny and Cher. Jump to years later, and I’m playing on her record and producing for her. 

“Then there was the whole Sonny and Cher, TOTO thing because David Paich and Jeff Porcaro were in Sonny and Cher’s band when they were just teenagers, so there’s a connection there. 

“Cher was like this thing in between that brought us together, same as Glen Campbell. It just sort of worked out that way. Cher is a lovely, unbelievably talented professional. Beautiful woman, funny, she’s a groove.”

“She’s a superstar, and there’s a reason why she’s a superstar, and she’s still beautiful. I haven’t seen her in a long time, but I loved the experience of working with her.”

Steve Lukather has released his ninth solo album, Bridges, which is available from here.

Steve Lukather - Bridges album cover.
“Bridges is another songwriting masterclass from one of music’s true gems.”

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