This was the first single for 10cc, which was already a very accomplished quartet. Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were in a band called Hotlegs, which had a hit in 1970 with "Neanderthal Man
." Graham Gouldman had written "Bus Stop
" for The Hollies and "For Your Love
" for the Yardbirds.
Stewart and Gouldman owned Strawberry Studios in Manchester, England, where the four of them backed other artists and also handled production and engineering. After working with Neil Sedaka on his 1972 album Solitaire
, they decided to record their own single, a song Gouldman and Stewart wrote called "Waterfall." Godley and Creme wrote a B-side for it: a teenage love song called "Donna."
"Donna" came out better than expected, so they made it the A-side. Stewart pitched it to the industry heavyweight Jonathan King, who loved it. He signed the band, assigned them the name 10cc (which came to him in a dream) and released "Donna" as their first single.