Hold the Line

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"Hold the Line"
Hold the Line.jpg
Single by Toto
from the album Toto
B-side"Takin' It Back"
ReleasedOctober 2, 1978 (1978-10-02)
Format7", 12" (45 rpm)
Length3:29 (LP: 3:56)
Songwriter(s)David Paich
Toto singles chronology
"Hold the Line"
"I'll Supply the Love"
Alternative Cover
German version
German version

"Hold the Line" is a song by the American rock band Toto. The song was written by the band's keyboardist David Paich, and the lead vocals were performed by Bobby Kimball. The song was released as the band's debut single, and was featured on their debut 1978 eponymous album. The song was a huge success in the U.S.; it reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart[3] during the winter of 1978–79, and number 14 on the official UK chart.


Jeff Porcaro, the band's drummer, gave a definition for the song:

"'Hold the Line' was a perfect example of what people will describe as your heavy metal chord guitar licks, your great triplet A-notes on the piano, your 'Sly'-hot-fun-in-the-summertime groove, all mishmashed together with a boy from New Orleans singing... and it really crossed over a lot of lines."[4]

Background and writing[edit]

David Paich about writing the song:

"It started out with the piano riff that is in the intro. I started playing this riff and I just couldn't stop playing it. I played it for days, and I started singing, "Hold the line, love isn't always on time." It was a phrase that just came into my head. . . . it was a blessing. (The words) came to me in the night, and then I went to the verse. I wrote it in 2 hours. Sometimes songs come quickly like that, and sometimes I spend 2 years trying to finish a song."

Jeff Porcaro on "Hold the Line", in a 1988 interview with Modern Drummer:

"That was me trying to play like Sly Stone's original drummer, Greg Errico, who played drums on "Hot Fun In The Summertime." The hi-hat is doing triplets, the snare drum is playing 2 and 4 backbeats, and the bass drum is on 1 and the & of 2. That 8th note on the second beat is an 8th-note triplet feel, pushed. When we did the tune, I said, "Gee, this is going to be a heavy four-on-the-floor rocker, but we want a Sly groove." The triplet groove of the tune was David's writing. It was taking the Sly groove and meshing it with a harder rock caveman approach."

Several of the band members recall hearing "Hold the Line" for the first time on the radio:

"I flipped the first time I heard myself on the radio. My mom called me up and said, "Turn on KLOS." It was the song "Hold the Line," and I started running around the house in my underwear, screaming, "I'm on the radio!" My wife was cracking up. It was just a thrill." (Steve Lukather, Guitar Player magazine, April 1984)

Bobby Kimball had a similar experience when he heard Toto for the very first time on the radio: "I was asleep, I had my alarm clock set for noon because we were gonna do something in the studio, some promo and when the alarm came on there was the radio and "Hold The Line" was playing. And my room was totally black and I was looking for the telephone and I called Paich and I heard him scream, he was living over there with his girlfriend and he was screaming around and falling over trying to get to the radio."

Live performances[edit]

The song has been a live staple at Toto shows. Steve Lukather played the song live with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band during the summer of 2012. Bobby Kimball plays it every time during his live performances with his own band since 2009.



Charts and certifications[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

In 1981, the Bosnian-born Serbian singer Zdravko Čolić released the cover version of this song in the Serbian language, with lyrics "Oktobar je, počinje sezona kiša" ("This is October, the rain season begins"). The Belgian blues band Blue Blot covered the song on their album Where Do We Go.[15]


  1. ^ Nelson George (2010). Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson. Da Capo Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-306-81878-3.
  2. ^ Lecaro, Lina (November 19, 2016). "This Monthly Club Is a Non-Ironic Celebration of Rock's Softer Side". LA Weekly.
  3. ^ "Album Search for "toto"". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-04. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ a b c d Steffen Hung. "Toto - Hold The Line". Swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  7. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-30. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  9. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1979/Top 100 Songs of 1979". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
  12. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Hold the Line". Music Canada.
  13. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Hold the Line". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  14. ^ "Italian single certifications – Toto – Hold the Line" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.
  15. ^ "Hold the Line - Blue Blot". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 February 2015.