BEHIND many a great recording artist is a great session musician.
But session players are an anonymous bunch.
They show up at the studio, record their track, take their cheque and disappear to their next job.
Steve Lukather, however, is about as famous as session guitarists go.
Not many musicians can reel off a resumé with sessions for Elton John, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Cher, Whitney Houston, Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, Lionel Richie, Barbra Streisand, Stevie Nicks and Michael Jackson.
That riff you hear on Jackson’s hard rocking Beat It – that’s Lukather.
But it isn’t just session work that earned Lukather a name.
Steve, known to many as ‘Luke’, was lead guitarist in pop rockers Toto.
The Los Angeles band achieved chart success – despite negative reviews – in the late 1970s and early 80s with singles such as Hold The Line, Africa and Rosanna.
Along with several Grammy Awards, Luke, who is considered to be one of the world’s greatest guitar virtuosos, last year received the international Eddy Christiani Award for 33 years of guitar mastership.
In between session duties and Toto – the band reunited last year for a European tour – Lukather has been releasing solo albums since the late 1980s.
His ability to switch between hard rock, blues, pop and jazz is demonstrated on his sixth album ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’, released last year.
Few musicians last for more than a few years in the music industry and after 35 years on the spotlight’s edge Luke has his battle scars.
But on a call to his hotel room in France Steve sounds like he’s regained his youthful vigour.
“This has been the most successful tour. The band is kicking it and the crowds have been great. I laugh and play the hits with four guys I went to high school with.”
But times haven’t always been rosy. He’s been through a divorce, his mum died last year and by his own admission, he’s upset a few people.
“I’ve really grown up in the past two years,” says Luke, who’s quit drinking and smoking. “After 30 years of Saturdays nights every night it’s enough for me.”
Citing the critical battering Toto received, Luke says: “I’ve taken 35 years of punches in the face. But here’s the funny thing – it’s turned around. AOR (album orientated rock) is finally cool now and all the people who hated us are probably dead now... Toto were never in style so we can’t go out of style.
“I hated the name though,” he adds, still with some embarrassment.
Though he’s played for a staggering number of superstars, Luke is still relatively unknown.
But the dad-of-four, who counts George Clooney and the late George Harrison as his friends, sees it as something of a blessing.
He says: “I’ve seen what fame can do. Take the money, but you don’t want to be that famous. The paparazzi are after you, your friends sell you out. I never wanted to be a famous face.”
Steve Lukather and his band will be playing Luke solo songs as well as Toto hits at Holmfirth Picturedrome on March 19.
For tickets (priced £23) call: 0871 230 1101.