Jeff Porcaro was born on April 1, 1954, in Hartford, Connecticut and first got interested in drumming due to the influence of his father. He began playing seriously at age seven though he is sure "I was playing even earlier than that. Only my father would actually know when I got started." Formal lessons initially came from papa Joe, followed by further studies with Bob Zimmitti and Rich Lapore.
If drummer Jeff Porcaro had never co-founded the immensely popular group TOTO his stature as an artist would nevertheless be assured. At age 28 Jeff has achieved a pinnacle of expertise and recognition accorded few players in a lifetime. Since leaving high school during his senior year to accompany Sonny and Cher in Las Vegas Jeff has toured and recorded with Seals and Crofts, Boz Scaggs, and Steely Dan.
Jeff Porcaro never had visions of being the world's greatest drummer. He didn't believe in putting that kind of pressure on himself. And even though drums have shaped and molded virtually every facet of his present life, he's never once been controlled by them.
From the start of his career, Jeff Porcaro was viewed as one of the music industry's top drummers. Porcaro possessed an impeccable sense of rhythm as well as a versatility that bridged virtually every style. Among the hundreds of albums he played on were Boz Scaggs' "Silk Degrees" (for which he wrote "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle") [sic], Dire Straits" "On Every Street", Michael Jackson's "Thriller", Elton John's "Jump Up", Don Henley's "End Of The Innocence", Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy", Rickie Lee Jones' debut, and Bruce Springsteen's "Human Touch".
A partial list of other artists he played with includes Bonnie Raitt, the Bee Gees, Jackson Browne, Michael McDonald, Lowell George, Hall & Oates, Etta James, Joe Cocker, Nils Lofgren, Manhattan Transfer, Greg Lake, George Benson, Larry Carlton, Paul McCartney, Pink Flyod, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Peter Frampton, Airplay, Peter Allen, America, and Stanley Clarke.
Jeff Porcaro suffered a heart attack and died on August 5, 1992. He was using a pesticide in his yard and an allergic reaction to the substance triggered the attack. An autopsy revealed a serious heart condition that had been previously undiagnosed. A report issued by the office of the Los Angeles County Coroner a month later also mentioned that a minute trace of cocaine was found in his body. Although traces of cocaine can remain in a body for years, the media latched on to the drug reference and widely reported that cocaine abuse was the cause of death. Unfortunately this rumor persists, in spite of repeated statements by those who knew him well that he had not used the drug for many years.
Jeff's funeral, attended by an estimated 1500 people, was held August 10th in the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), where he was buried. The Jeff Porcaro Memorial Fund was established to benefit the music and art departments of Grant High School in Los Angeles where Jeff was a student in the early 70s. It also provides four scholarships each year to Grant High School seniors. A memorial concert took place at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on December 14th, with an all-star line up that included Boz Scaggs, Donald Fagen, Don Henley, Michael McDonald, Eddie Van Halen, and, of course, Toto. The proceeds of the concert were used to establish an educational trust fund for Jeff's sons.
Jeff was survived by his parents Joe and Eileen, brothers Mike and Steve, sister Joleen, wife Susan, and sons Christopher, Miles and Nico, and by many, many friends and fans who will never forget him.