Before Toto enjoyed a hugely successful run into the ‘80s, some record label executives believed they were too eclectic to win over fans.

Keyboardist and principal songwriter David Paich remembered constant complaints. “A lot of the comments were, ‘There’s no thread [to the music]. You guys don’t have a sound,” Paich said on the Broken Record podcast. “‘What is the sound? We can’t tell if you’re an R&B group or a rock n’ roll group or an adult contemporary group. What are you?’”

While the label was anxious to classify Toto’s genre, the band was determined to not be pigeonholed. “We just said, ‘This is it. This is what we are. We do all this stuff,’” Paich noted. “That’s why we wanted to be different. We wanted to just do good music of any kind, any genre.”

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Despite some naysayers at their label, Toto struck it big with their debut single, “Hold the Line,” released in October 1978.

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David Paich Recalls Toto’s Initial Radio Airplay

Paich distinctly remembered hearing his band on the radio for the first time.

“I was at my sister’s apartment and I heard this faint piano,” Paich recalled, alluding to the famous intro from “Hold the Line.” “And I said, ‘That sounds really familiar. That actually sounds like me playing. Oh, fuck! That’s our record! It’s on the radio!’ And everyone, we were all calling the radio stations requesting it like teenagers.”

Paich said they “were like screaming kids. We tried calling each other and all of the lines were busy because we were all calling each other.”

“Hold the Line” eventually became a Top 5 hit for Toto, helping propel the band’s self-titled debut album to more than 2 million copies sold.

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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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