“Africa“ is a 1982 song by the American rock band Toto. It was included on their 1982 album Toto IV, and released as a single in late 1982. It reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1983 and number three on the UK Singles Chart the same month. The song was written by the band’s keyboardist/vocalist David Paich and drummer Jeff Porcaro.
The initial idea for the song came from David Paich. Jeff Porcaro explains the idea behind the song: “a boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.”
David Paich said: “At the beginning of the ’80s I watched a late night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn’t leave my head. I tried to imagine how I’d feel about if I was there and what I’d do.”
Musically the song took quite some time to assemble, as Paich and Porcaro explain:
On “Africa” you hear a combination of marimba with GS 1. The kalimba is all done with the GS 1; it’s six tracks of GS 1 playing different rhythms. I wrote the song on CS-80, so that plays the main part of the entire tune.
So when we were doing “Africa” I set up a bass drum, snare drum and a hi-hat, and Lenny Castro set up right in front of me with a conga. We looked at each other and just started playing the basic groove. … The backbeat is on 3, so it’s a half-time feel, and it’s 16th notes on the hi-hat. Lenny started playing a conga pattern. We played for five minutes on tape, no click, no nothing. We just played. And I was singing the bass line for ‘Africa’ in my mind, so we had a relative tempo. Lenny and I went into the booth and listened back to the five minutes of that same boring pattern. We picked out the best two bars that we thought were grooving, and we marked those two bars on tape…Maybe it would have taken two minutes to program that in the Linn, and it took about half an hour to do this. But a Linn machine doesn’t feel like that.
Toto IV is the fourth studio album by American rock band Toto released on April 8, 1982 by Columbia Records. The album marks the band’s career breakthrough. The lead single, “Rosanna”, peaked at number 2 for five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, while the album’s third single, “Africa”, topping the Hot 100 charts […]