Toto’s Mike Porcaro ‘hanging in there’
Toto keyboardist David Paich has described the “heartbreaking drag” of seeing retired bassist Mike Porcaro battling motor neurone disease.
The debilitating illness – also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Lou Gehrig’s disease – forced him off the road in 2007 and has now put him in a wheelchair.
Toto split in 2008 but reformed two years later with the part aim of raising funds and awareness for Porcaro’s condition. Bassist Nathan East has taken his place alongside Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro, Joe Williams and Simon Phillips.
Paich tells Chambers of Rock: “I’d like to say Mike’s doing better, but the words I can use are: Mike’s hanging in there. The prognosis isn’t that great.
“He’s been going downhill for the last three years. It’s a very slow degenerative process. He can’t walk and can’t play, which is a total heartbreaking drag.”
Paich admits it’s been painful to watch his lifelong friend’s suffering, but says Porcaro remains in good spirits and hails his wife Cheryl for offering unending support.
“He’s like the old Mike except that he’s disabled,” the keyboardist says. “He’s in a wheelchair and can’t move. But Mike and Cherrie are a real true love story. She is an absolute angel. Never complains. I just wish the world was full of people like her.”
Toto will continue to provide their own support for as long as necessary. “We can’t cure what he has, but we can help his family a little bit. It’s a sad situation. It reminds me of like when the Faces had Ronnie Lane – it’s that same kind of thing, where you can’t do anything about it, but it’s like before.”
But Porcaro doesn’t want to be a “poster boy,” Paich insists. “All Mike is trying to do is raise awareness on it. I pray that he’ll be with us long enough for them to find a cure.”
On a lighter note, he recalls how he asked Kiss star Gene Simmons to manage the band when they regrouped.
“I called my friend Gene and said, ‘Will you manage us?’ He laughed and said no, but recommended Doc McGhee.
“We’re trying to rebrand ourselves. We thought we’d give it a go for the next two or three years – our thirty-fifth anniversary is coming up in about a year and a half, so we felt we’d just get back into it and see what the market is like.”