Joe Porcaro has died. He was aged 90. The patriarch or a musical family Joe was a trained jazz drummer and educator. He worked in sessions across kit and percussion and stretched over so many genres – but he could also be found in a jazz club playing his first love, leading or sitting in with a small combo.
Joe was the father of bassist Mike, keyboardist Steve and drummer Jeff – all session players themselves and members of the band Too. Joe recorded on many of Toto’s great songs and albums too – that’s him playing the bass marimba part on Africa.
If you’re a record collector then Joe Porcaro is in your collection. He created some of the amazing percussion sounds on many Lalo Schifrin soundtracks – including my favourite, Enter The Dragon. He worked with many of the great film composers in fact: Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard.
In fact, in general, a shorter list is always of the names Joe Porcaro didn’t work with. He toured occasionally, he released some albums as a leader, but as a sideman he appeared on recordings by Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, The Monkees, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Stan Getz. The list is long. It’s a rollcall of the greats.
You are likely to find Joe on a classic like Silk Degrees by Boz Scaggs (playing the percussion part while his son Jeff was on the drum-throne) as you are to find out that he contributed a marimba part on a Madonna record.
He was also a teacher. To his sons of course. But also an author of drum books, and a co-founder of the Los Angeles Music Academy (LAMA). He is now reunited with his sons Jeff (1992) and Mike (2015). He is survived by his son Steve.
What a towering legacy he leaves.
R.I.P. Joe Porcaro