Bobby Kimball

Robert Troy Kimball (born March 29, 1947) is an American singer and songwriter best known as the original and longtime frontman of the rock band Toto from 1977 to 1984 and again from 1998 to 2008. Kimball has also performed as a solo artist and session singer.[1]

Bobby Kimball
Kimball live in 2007
Background information
Birth nameRobert Troy Kimball
Born (1947-03-29) March 29, 1947
Orange, Texas, U.S.
Years active1962–present
Associated acts
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life

Kimball was raised in Vinton, Louisiana, but was born in nearby Orange, Texas, as Vinton did not have a hospital. Kimball started singing as a child, dabbling on vocals and playing piano and acoustic guitar in a musical household throughout his youth - mostly covering and performing 1950s and 60's R&B hits, 1800's Traditional Olde Tyme music; as well as rare local Swamp pop and Cajun folk songs, typical of Louisiana. His parents were extremely supportive of his hobby of performing music and his musical talents; and devoted much interest in his opportunity to become a professional musician as full-time career by adulthood. He is of English, Cajun French, Welsh and Jewish ancestry. He graduated from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1969. Throughout the 1970s, Kimball performed as the vocalist in various New Orleans-area bands, including The Levee Band, which became LeRoux after Kimball left.

Career success

In 1974, Kimball moved from Louisiana to Los Angeles, California to pursue a full-time music career. In California, he joined three members of Three Dog Night to form a band called S.S. Fools. They released one album on CBS Records, which was considered a commercial failure, causing the band to be dropped from their label and to split up within a year and a half. In 1976, David Paich and Jeff Porcaro asked Kimball to join them with three other session musicians, who would eventually form Toto. He submitted a self-penned audition song for the band: "You Are the Flower", which he had written for his daughter[2] and was later included on Toto's debut album. Paich and Porcaro were impressed by Kimball's bluesy and long-ranged vocal style and offered him the job of vocalist and songwriter. The pair liked Kimball's ability to sing in an R&B style and to fuse it with hard rock and jazz, which was characteristic and attributed to his Louisiana origins.

Kimball performed on the first four studio albums by Toto, though roughly half the songs the band recorded during this period (including a comparable share of their hits) featured other members of the group on lead vocals instead of Kimball. During this time, Kimball was known to have made a variety of sandwiches for the band during recording sessions, something he has stated in interviews that he was "very proud of".[3] He was asked to leave the band in 1984 during the sessions for the Isolation album. In the late 1990s, on good terms with his former bandmates, Kimball was asked to rejoin Toto, which he again accepted.

A longstanding urban legend holds that the band named itself 'Toto' after Kimball's "real" name, "Robert Toteaux." This story was actually an in-joke perpetuated by Toto's original bassist, David Hungate - due to Kimball's home-state of Louisiana and his Cajun heritage. According to Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, the real reason for this choice of band name was that Toto was "Just a really simple (unpretentious) name: easy to remember and easily identifiable, in any language."[4]

After Toto

After splitting from Toto in 1984,[5] Bobby Kimball relocated to Germany for a solo career under producer Frank Farian of the Far Corporation.[6]

Kimball also continued to work as a session artist, singing background vocals with a trio composed of Michael McDonald from The Doobie Brothers and Bill Champlin of Chicago. Kimball was nearly asked by the band to return to Toto during 1989–1990 to record songs for the band's greatest hits album, Past to Present 1977–1990, only to be replaced by singer Jean-Michel Byron (a decision said to have derived from Sony, the band's record company at the time).[7] Byron was let go shortly thereafter, and guitarist-vocalist Steve Lukather took over Toto's primary lead vocal duties from 1991 to 1999.[7] After leaving the band, Kimball released the live album Classic Toto Hits in late 1990, in which he performed various Toto songs from over the years.[6] He recorded the album with the Frankfurt Rock Orchestra.[6] In 1994, Kimball released his first solo album Rise Up,[6] featuring the single "Woodstock".[6]

Return to Toto

In 1998, Kimball rejoined Toto. The band then returned to the studio to record Mindfields. Toto toured in support of the album throughout 1999 and 2000. In late 1999, the band released the live album Livefields. In 1999, Kimball released his second solo album All I Ever Needed, with the single "Kristine".[6] In 2002, Toto released a covers album Through the Looking Glass. In February 2006, Toto released Falling in Between, their first studio album of new material since 1999; however, it was announced in June 2008 that the band members had gone separate ways. When the group reformed in 2010, Kimball was not asked to return and was replaced by previous Toto vocalist Joseph Williams.

Kimball hosts his own website where he offers vocal advice to aspiring singers.[8]

During 2007, Kimball was involved in the Pink Floyd tribute album, Pigs and Pyramids, An All Star Lineup Performing the Songs of Pink Floyd. His contribution "Have a Cigar" also appeared on another Pink Floyd tribute album that year, Pink Box: Songs of Pink Floyd.

Latest activities

Kimball provided additional backing vocals on the song, "Caroline," on the 2006 Chicago album, XXX.

Kimball has toured and done concerts with many of his friends' bands around the world. In January 2010, he did fourteen concerts in Germany on the "Rock Meets Classic" Tour with the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague, featuring Philipp Maier as Conductor and Music Arranger. The singers with Kimball on this tour were Lou Gramm, the original lead vocalist of Foreigner, and Dan McCafferty, from the band Nazareth.

On May 16, 2010, at the LMHOF Louisiana Music Homecoming in Erwinville, Louisiana, Bobby Kimball was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Kimball recorded a progressive rock album in 2010 entitled Elements under the band name Yoso with former Yes members Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood. Kimball recorded the 2011 album Kimball/Jamison with Jimi Jamison.

In July 2011, Kimball toured Ireland with an emerging Irish band, Shadowplay.[9] The tour visited Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Sligo, concluding in a headline performance at The Buncrana Music Festival, Ireland's largest not-for-profit music event.

In November 2012, Kimball toured South America. The tour included Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru.

In March 2013, Kimball was a special guest vocalist with the Raiding the Rock Vault classic rock tribute show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In May 2014, in Genoa, at the FIM - Fiera Internazionale della Musica, Kimball obtained from the director of the event Verdiano Vera, the FIM Award 2014 - Legend of Rock - Best Voice.

In February 2015, he represented the United States at the LVI International Song Festival in Viña del Mar, Chile, with the song "Living Your Life for Happiness".

In late 2016, Bobby released a solo album, We're Not In Kansas Anymore,[10] and the same year, music website No Echo featured Kimball on their "Best Male AOR Singers" list.[11] He has also done some guest appearances on numerous bands' recordings of late. He has also sung the choruses on the song "Tomorrow" for American progressive rock band Hearafter.

In mid 2019, Kimball was traveling at LAX and allegedly inappropriately touched a child with his cane. Kimball was escorted by police, and was shortly released, although he was taken to the hospital for minor injuries and shoulder/back pain. The parents of the child did not press charges.[12] In November 2019, it was reported on German media that Kimball suffers from dementia.[13]


Solo albums

  • Rise Up (1994)
  • All I Ever Needed (1999)
  • We're Not In Kansas Anymore (2016)

Live albums

  • Classic Toto Hits with The Frankfurt Rock Orchestra (1990)

Compilation albums

  • Tribute to Ray Charles with The hr Bigband (1993)
  • Mysterious Sessions (2017)

with S. S. Fools

  • S. S. Fools (1976)

with Toto

with Far Corporation

  • Division One (1985)
  • Solitude (1994)

with West Coast All Stars

  • California Dreamin' (1997)
  • Naturally (1998)

with Yoso

  • Elements (2010)

with Kimball/Jamison


  1. "KIMBALL, BOBBY". TOTO Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-11-01. Bobby Kimball was born as Robert Troy Kimball on march 29th 1947 in Vinton, Louisiana.
  2. Hernandez, Alan Carlos (July 16, 2017). "Sunday Interview: The Voice of Toto, Bobby Kimball". Herald de Paris. Archived from the original on 2017-08-05. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  3. Christensen, Sam (1997). "This Is The Album". 1 (12): 8. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. Archived January 18, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  5. Ryan, Tim (7 May 2004). "TOTO flies high on tour". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  6. "Bobby Kimball". Retrieved 2015-11-01.
  7. "Interviews: Steve Lukather". Retrieved 2015-11-01.
  8. "bobbykimball". bobbykimball. 2014-03-09. Retrieved 2015-11-01.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2011-12-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. We're Not In Kansas Anymore
  11. Best Male AOR Singers feature on
  12. "Ex-Toto Singer Bobby Kimball Allegedly Touched Child with Cane, Threatened Cop". TMZ. Retrieved 2019-07-06.
  13. "Sorgen um Bobby Kimball: TOTO-Gründer an Demenz erkrankt". ROCK ANTENNE (in German). 2019-11-11. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
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