From the heights fronting multi Grammy Award winning band Toto, to being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, this new upcoming film will be told through the eyes and heart of Bobby Kimball's producer and long time friend, John Zaika.
Bobby Kimball sang on the Toto hits “Africa”, “Rosanna” and “Hold The Line”, to name a few. “Africa” and “Rosanna” were covered in recent years by American rock band, Weezer, and so for a second time, the songs entered the lexicon of popular music. Toto's popularity saw them sell over forty million records and winning six Grammy Awards.
Born in Texas in 1947, Kimball grew up in Louisiana and started playing piano at the age of four. His mother was blessed with "perfect pitch" as a singer and so became a major inspiration in Kimball starting his first group at the age of eight.
Throughout his youth, he played in about fifteen different bands in Louisiana and Texas. He finished up in an outfit called "The Levee Band". During a tour with the group, Kimball was invited to travel to LA to sing with the musicians who had made up the successful rock band, "Three Dog Night". In late 1974, Allsup and Sneed left Three Dog Night to form a new band, S.S. Fools. Working with veteran Three Dog Night producer, Richard Podolor (Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Chris Hillman, Alice Cooper, Phil Seymour, Dwight Twilley), they brought in Kimball as lead singer and keyboard player. Refining their sound to be a somewhat funkier and more soulful take than their previous group, they signed to CBS Records before disbanding almost a year and a half later, having only recorded their self titled album.
Being based in the thriving LA music community, S.S. Fools' rehearsals were frequented by David Paich and Jeff Porcaro who eventually offered Kimball to join their new group that was to become Toto. Their eponymous self-produced debut LP was released in 1978. The breakout single from it was "Hold The Line" which occupied the Billboard US Top 10 for 6 weeks, also reaching Number 14 in the UK. Toto was nominated for "Best New Artist" at the 20th Grammy Awards on February 15, 1979, but lost to L.A. disco/soul group, A Taste of Honey.
Toto's second studio album, 'Hydra", was produced by the band, Reggie Fisher (Rita Coolidge, Sly Stone, Bobby Womack, Waylon Jennings, Michael Jackson, T-Bone Burnett, Los Lobos) and Tom Knox (Hall & Oates, Smokey Robinson, Randy Newman, Rickie-Lee Jones, The Jacksons, Sarah Vaughan, Don Henley). It was released in 1979, reaching the US Top 40 Billboard Pop Albums chart. Though not as successful as their debut, Hydra still managed to achieve gold status.
"Turn Back" was their third album from 1981. It was produced by Toto and Geoff Workman (Queen, The Cars, Journey, Foreigner, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister). The LP featured heavier guitar work and less keyboard than their previous outings. It didn't produce a hit single in the US, though the album's lead single, "Goodbye Elenore" charted well in Japan, solidifying their Japanese fanbase for years of touring since.
With commercial pressure mounting from the record company to produce a new hit record, the group embarked on recording their self-produced fourth album, "Toto IV". A much larger than usual budget provided by the label enabled them to use as many as 3 separate 24-track recorders at the same time (most bands used a single 24 track recorder). It took many months during 1981 and 1982 over various locations including Sunset Sound and Record One in Los Angeles.
Strings were recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, with additional recording at "Hogg Manor" (David Paich's home studio in Sherman Oaks, California, which was later unfortunately flattened in the 1994 Northridge earthquake). It was mastered by Doug Sax (The Doors, Frank Zappa, Harry Nilsson, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd) at Sterling Sound, New York.
Toto IV was released in 1982 and became Triple Platinum-certified, achieving one of the most commercially successful albums of the year. "Rosanna", "Africa" and "I Won't Hold You Back" each entered the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Kimball and Toto parted ways in 1984 during the sessions for the "Isolation" album. He began a solo career and relocated to Germany and continued to work as a session artist.
Kimball's session work experience is like a "Rolodex" of rock 'n' roll and pop greats including Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Tom Jones, Al Jarreau, Barbara Streisand, Richard Marx, Chicago, Edgar Winter, Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers), Spencer Davis, Quiet Riot, Little River Band, David Foster, The Tubes, Nik Kershaw, Leo Sayer, Mickey Thomas, Ray Charles, Blood Sweat & Tears, Alice Cooper and Jack Bruce.
Kimball later resurfaced in Toto with his longest stint from 1998, remaining the lead vocalist for the next 10 years until the band dissolved in 2008. He has recorded several solo albums including his two most recent, "We're Not In Kansas Anymore" (2016) and "Mysterious Sessions" (2017) which included three Toto "mega-hits" plus songs by Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Aerosmith and Journey.
The Making Of "Kite On A String - The Bobby Kimball Story"
A message from producer John Zaika and the team making "Kite On A String - The Bobby Kimball Story".
"Bobby Kimball has had roughly a 62-year music career which is unheard of and unfortunately has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. It is sometimes referred to as frontotemporal disorder or FTD. Frontotemporal dementia affects roughly 10 to 15% of all dementia cases and is rare. There is no cure, the life expectancy is usually 6 to 10 years and it creates all kinds of neurological disabilities as well as cognitive behavioural problems and social problems. It's extremely painful and taxing on the family members, caregivers and you have to have a lot of patience, compassion, love and understanding as they become basically childlike.
It’s not often in documentary films about music artists that you get the full back story, not only of fame but the story of struggle and in this case dementia, hearing loss, online hatred and bullying. Please don't get me wrong. Bobby Kimball has had a wildly successful career but it's come at a cost and sometimes with a beat down.
This film has everything to do with pop music culture as well as a touching human story about life and the arts as told from the filmmaker John Zaika’s perspective and his friendship with Bobby.
They’ve been friends since 1989 and have written many songs together and have recorded two records together with plenty of laughs in between. John’s reasons for doing this film are to shine a bright light on Bobby’s career as well as to share some of the music that's never been heard before and also to bring awareness to frontotemporal dementia because it is rare and there is no cure...
Help Fund The Music
We would like to raise $30,000 to help fund the music licensing cost for the film. All of the interviews have been completed and filmed, all of the scene shots are completed and filmed, and 80% of the underscore (music) is completed. We are waiting to do the final dialogue and editing of the film when we are sure what songs Bobby Kimball performed with Toto we are able to afford to use. This makes a difference in how the film is edited!"
"The impact with having the original music from the band Toto that Bobby Kimball performed on is everything with a film of this nature, this is where a film could fall flat or have the emotion and energy needed to tell a great story. Bobby Kimball and the band Toto have a distinctive sound that could never be imitated." (John Zaika Filmmaker)