By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks
American singer Jeff Scott Soto made a name for himself as the vocalist for Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force in the mid-80s. A few years later he teamed up with his former Rising Force bandmate Marcel Jacob to form Talisman and later went on to front Journey. During his career, Jeff has been performing as a solo artist as well as with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, W.E.T., Sons of Apollo, Axel Rudi Pell, Soul SirkUS and many more. 31 years after first interviewing Jeff, Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson caught up with him to find out about the records that inspired him.
“Not in any order…For the readers: please don’t hate, I am not your average metal guy. I grew up with no rock’n’roll in my blood until I was 16!”
The Jackson Five “ABC” (1970)
“As I was just five years old when this album came out, Michael Jackson was only 12. He was my first role model in knowing this is what I want to do with my life. Even that young I knew it because I thought ‘he’s a kid, I’m a kid, I want this too!’. Learning later the Motown team of musicians who were on so many famous albums and songs also recorded the music for this, as a kid I assumed the Jacksons played everything.”
Toto “Toto” (1978)
“I grew up loving only pop, R&B, etc., because rock’n’roll for me was missing the soul and swagger from the stuff I loved until the first Toto album emerged! Hearing ‘I’ll Supply the Love’ and ‘Hold the Line’ for the first time blew my mind. Bobby Kimball’s white soul voice was the perfect vehicle to win me over what I considered ‘heavy’ for the time. From there, I discovered the likes of Foreigner, Journey and Starship with Mickey Thomas, all groups with singers who were cut from the same cloth of singers I loved!”
Styx “Pieces of Eight” (1978)
“I remember the day my brother came from our local store with this album and quite a few others he stole that day. We grew up very poor and I was too scared to steal even a piece of gum, but Joey got this Styx album for me because I loved the song ‘Blue Collar Man’ so much. This album forced me to discover their entire catalogue to date and from then, I was a massive Styx fan, even defending their ‘Kilroy Was Here’ album!”
Queen “Live Killers” (1979)
“In high school, my best friend’s sister had this album and I thought the cover was so cool, I asked to borrow it. I was not a big Queen fan just yet, well I just didn’t know it, as I listened, I realised how many of their songs I actually knew but didn’t know was them. But one thing I took from this album was how great four guys could pull off songs that you would need a 50-piece band to do live! Queen were actually two entities, a studio one that no one could touch back then with their levels of extreme and intense influence and the live machine they became. The songs truly took another course live!”
Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” (1982)
“My first real metal album…. By the time I got this album, I was already into Judas Priest, Dio, Saxon and all the rest that injected metal into my DNA by then. My brother listened to Maiden’s ‘Killers’ on repeat but I could not stand Paul Di’Anno’s voice then. But Bruce Dickinson for me was a game changer. That album, like the others above, was all killer/no filler!”
Honourable mentions: Prince “Purple Rain” (1984), Terence Trent D’Arby “Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby” (1987), Judas Priest “Screaming for Vengeance” (1982), Extreme “Pornograffitti” (1990), Boston “Boston” (1976).