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This song got its name from the actress Rosanna Arquette, who was dating Toto keyboard player Steve Porcaro at the time. Porcaro didn't write the song - it was written by Toto leader David Paich, who was always looking for good ideas for lyrics. As Toto's guitarist Steve Lukather explained in a 2002 interview with Mixdown, the song isn't exactly about Arquette. Said Likather: "She was living with Steve Porcaro at the time and David Paich and Steve Porcaro were living together, and David loved the sound of the name. But it wasn't about her, it just happened to be her and everybody jumped on that one."
Paich added in the liner notes to Toto's Best Ballads compilation: "Rosanna is about three girls that I knew all rolled into one. After I met Rosanna Arquette, I think I just stole her name and stuck it on there."
Steve Porcaro and Rosanna Arquette broke up not long after this song was released. It would not be the last time Arquette dated a musician: she had a turbulent relationship with Peter Gabriel in the early '90s, and in 2007, she went on some dates with Paul McCartney.
This song caused some justifiable confusion, as it was written by David Paich, inspired by Steve Porcaro's girlfriend, yet sung by lead singer Bobby Kimball. Many listeners assumed it was Kimball who was involved with Arquette.
The girl who played Rosanna in the video will look familiar to fans of the movie Dirty Dancing
: it's Cynthia Rhodes, who played Penny Johnson in the movie. Patrick Swayze is also in the video, but much less visible - that's him wearing the red jacket among Rosanna's suitors. The West Side Story
-style dance fighting was used in the clip almost a year before Michael Jackson did it in his video for "Beat It
." Even more trivia: Rhodes is married to Richard Marx
This won a Grammy for Record Of The Year and helped Toto IV win for Album Of The Year.
Toto's first seven albums contained at least one song with a girl's name as the title.
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