Welcome Back

Album: Welcome Back (1976)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • Sebastian wrote this as the theme song for the ABC TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, staring Gabe Kaplan as a teacher who returns to his old school and is placed in a class of misfits known as The Sweathogs. The show was a big break for John Travolta, who played one of The Sweathogs.
  • Since it was written for the TV show, the song was less than a minute long. Viewers loved the song and related to the message about returning to the place where you laughed and your dreams were born. It became clear that there was demand for a full-length song, so Sebastian wrote a second verse and it was released as a single. Although the song does not have the word "Kotter" anywhere in the lyrics or title, the first pressings of the single were released as "Welcome Back, Kotter," to make sure everyone connected the song with the TV show. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Eric - Sandusky, OH
  • Sebastian was a member of The Lovin' Spoonful, one of the most successful bands of the '60s, but one that was extant for only a few years. With this song, listeners welcomed him back to charts, giving him his only major hit as a solo artist.
  • Sebastian recalled the story of the song to Uncut magazine June 2014: "I got a call from a guy called Alan Sacks from Brooklyn, who was writing a TV show with Gabe Kaplan. He wanted New York guys to do older writing. I saw a pilot and read some early scripts, and went away thinking, 'I could hit this out of the park!' I came back with this song 'Welcome Back,' and their reaction was to change the name of the show from Kotter to Welcome Back, Kotter."
  • Sebastian said that this song has a particularly warm spot in his heart, because "it bought me my house."
  • In his first attempt, Sebastian tried writing a song with "Kotter" in the title, but the only word he could rhyme with that was "otter," so he scrapped that idea.
  • Steve Barri produced this song with Sebastian. Barri had lots of success with TV theme songs: He co-wrote "Secret Agent Man" (for the series Secret Agent) and co-produced "Theme From S.W.A.T.," which was a #1 hit 10 weeks before this song hit the top spot.
  • The Rapper Mase sampled this on his 2004 song "Welcome Back." It was his first album after a five-year absence, which explains the significance. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Miki - Columbia, MD

Comments: 5

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenKotter: "Does anyone here know the name of a John Sebastian hit song from 1976?"
    Horshack (raising hand): "OHHH! OHH-OHH-OHHHH!"
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 9th 1975, the television sitcom 'Welcome Back, Kotter' debut on the ABC-TV network; the series ran for four years with a total of 95 episodes...
    Eight months later on May 2nd, 1976 the show's theme song, "Welcome Back", would peak at #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    The song prevented "Right Back Where We Started From" by Maxine Nightingale from reaching #1; it peaked at #2...
    {See the next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 12th 1976, John Sebastian performed "Welcome Back" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Three months earlier on March 21st, 1976 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; and on May 2nd it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 7 of those 14 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    He had two other records make the Top 100; "She's A Lady" (peaked at #84) and "Hideaway" (reached #95 in 1976)...
    Mr. Sebastian celebrated his 70th birthday three months ago on March 17th, 2014.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzRequiescat In pace, Epstein.
  • Garrett from Nashville, TnSebastion was a studio-quality harmonica player, and plays the solo on the record himself.
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