by Toto

Album: Toto IV (1982)
Charted: 12 2
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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.

    In a Songfacts interview with Paich, he explained: "'Rosanna' was about a high school love, one of my first loves, but I just tagged another Rosanna's name on there because she was going at the time with Steve Porcaro, my best friend. He had just met her and was looking to title a song with her name, and it just fit perfectly for that song right there. So it's got her name on it, but it's really about another high school sweetheart, which is how songs happen sometimes."
  • 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.
  • From the opening line, it seems like this is going to be a love song to Rosanna:

    All I want to do when I wake up in the morning is see you eyes

    But a few lines in we learn that she's a heartbreaker:

    I didn't know you were looking for more than I could ever be

    By the end of the song, we learn that she's been gone for nearly a year, and this poor guy is still a wreck:

    I never thought that losing you could ever hurt so bad

    The catchy chorus and optimistic opening line belie the heartache in the song, making it maybe not the best choice for Steve Porcaro to impress Rosanna Arquette, although the song ended up being more popular than most of her movies.
  • 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 was married to Richard Marx from 1989-2014.
  • David Paich had the initial idea for the video. When the song breaks down for the line, "Not quite a year since she went away," there is finger-snapping in the mix, which is a hallmark of West Side Story. Paich thought about doing something similar to what Phil Collins did in his "You Can't Hurry Love" video, where guys do some shadow dancing while snapping their fingers. His simple idea became far more elaborate after director Steve Barron started working on it. "We got down to the lot, and all of a sudden, there's like, ten pairs of guys dressed in leather jackets like Grease, jumping around and dancing," Paich told Songfacts.
  • This won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and helped Toto IV win for Album of the Year. The band also won Producer of the Year for their work on the album, which they produced themselves.
  • Toto's first seven albums each contain at least one song with a girl's name in the title. Most of these songs were written by David Paich, who did so as a sort of tribute to his father, Marty Paich, who arranged the Ray Charles album Dedicated to You, in which every song had a girl's name in the title. Here are the womanly songs from Toto's early albums:

    "Angela" - Toto (1978)
    "Lorraine" - Hydra (1979)
    "Goodbye Elenore" - Turn Back (1981)
    "Rosanna" - Toto IV (1982)
    "Carmen," "Holyanna" - Isolation (1984)
    "Lea" - Fahrenheit (1986)
    "Pamela," "Anna" - The Seventh One (1988)
  • Later in 1982, Eddie Money had a hit with "Shakin'." The first line: "Rosanna's daddy had a car she loved to drive."
  • Here's another '80s hit with a connection to Rosanna Arquette: When The Tubes needed a young kid to star as a carnival rider in their "She's A Beauty" video, Arquette suggested her 12-year-old brother, Robert, who got the role. Rosanna was friends with The Tubes, and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather co-wrote the song.

Comments: 36

  • 70's RockerIf that is indeed Patrick Swayze, he is quite visible at the 4:24 mark of the video.
  • Andrew Bruno from Newark NjActually, it is not Patrick Swayze in the video. It is a case of mistaken identity that has just grown into a legend over the years. The woman making an appearance in Dirty Dancing, the short and quick shots of the male dancer, and his hairstyle is probably what started this whole myth. It is also not a "young Patrick Swayze" which has been used to legitimize the physical appearance of the dancer in the video. Find and watch the season 9, episode 18 of "MASH" named "BLOOD BROTHERS" which has Patrick Swayze appearing in an important role in the storyline. This episode of MASH came out in the year before the Rosanna video and when you compare the two you will clearly see it is not him. Patrick was even younger in that episode of MASH, and back then he already looked like the Patrick Swayze most people remember.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenA co-worker of mine in the electronics store I was working in at the time this came out was a keyboard player in her spare time. She loved to play along with that great piano riff at the end with one of the keyboards we had on display whenever this song came on.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenArquette was (and is) quite the man-eater, so perhaps someone should introduce her to Hall or Oates.
  • Kathy from FloridaThe coroner initially thought Jeff died from insecticide poisoning. However, later, the coroner stated that cocaine was found in Jeff's system, and the effects of long-term use caused a hardening of the arteries. There was no insecticide present in the toxicology report. The friends and family disagree, but friends and family always do. I tend to believe the coroner. He is a disinterested third party with no reason to lie.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyWhat are the odds; on March 4th 1973, the Classics IV entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #100 with a completely different song titled "Rosanna", it remained on the chart for three weeks, peaking at #95...
    And in 1968 Johnny Cash had a Top 100 record titled "Rosanna's Going Wild"; it stayed on the chart for two weeks, reaching #91...
  • Roann from Apalachin, NyActually, Jeff Procaro did die from a heart attack. "The Los Angeles County Coroner's office lists the cause of death to be a heart attack from atherosclerosis induced by cocaine use, not from an allergic reaction to the pesticides as presumed (and stated by Toto in the band's official history) immediately after his death." - Wikipedia
  • Dillon from Orlando, Flactually Jeff Porcaro did not die frum a drug induced Heart attack It was brought on by a sever allergic reaction to insecticide
  • Diverdriver from Petaluma, CaJames Newton Howard was married to Rosanna Arquette from 1986-1987. He was a friend of the band and had a substantial roll in Toto IV. He also writes scores for Hollywood movies.
  • Shelby from Los Angeles, CaI worked in the industry at the time and was around the studios in those days, but learned this more from watching interviews than anything else. Yes it is true that Steve Porcaro was the one dating Rosanna Arquette at the time, and I witnessed this first hand, but David Paich wrote the song and I know this as a fact from the time of them working on it and from later interviews, and it was not written about Rosanna Arquette. David Paich wrote it about a former lover of his, though he is not one to share such things, and chose not to use her name. Having left the name blank, David brought the song to the groups and they decided together to use the name Rosana. I believe it was Lukather who made the suggestion, so perhaps this is where the confusion comes from. Ms. Arquette was very amiable and much liked by the guys in the band so it was easy to agree. I think just about every guy who met the girl at that time was in love with her so it was an excellent choice. As for those posting jokes about the death of a very talented and fine man, I can not imagine you have ever had any dealings with death of those close to you. Try to have some respect.
  • Bryan from Worcester, MaThe song is not about Rosanna Arquette. She and keyboardist Steve Porcaro were dating however the song was written by David Paich and already finished by the time of the breakup. Paich needed a name that fit well in the chorus so he used her name. The song is said to have no meaning to the relationship, it was just a coincidence she and Porcaro broke up
  • Melissa from Loxahatchee, Flthis is a great song. its in a new time life collection called Ultimate Rock Ballads collection and my mom knew EVERY SINGLE SNIPPET that they played. this is one of those songs that i like BECAUSE it came from a cd comercial/infomercial but i knew a lot of them also. NOT AS MANY AS MY MOM THOUGH!
  • K from Dallas, TxTO: Sara, Silver Spring, MD
    Lukather himself has stated that the band was named after the dog in the W.O.O.
    No it was *NOT* a heartattack it was an allergic reaction from a pestacide that killed him.
    TO: Kev, Sc--thorpe, England
    Rosanne never dated Lukather. She dated Steve Pocaro.
  • Yunyun from Forks, WaThe real truth is not p[reety! its about an under age girl(my mom) who had to go into a mental hopital!
  • Lisa Hawks from Shreveport, LaWas Val Kilmer in the video too?
  • Kim from Pikeville, TnTo Don in Bowling Green, KY: The lead male dancer is Patrick Swayze.
  • Dale from Santa Fe, NmRosanna Arquette also appeared in the video
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdFYI the name Toto was derived from an African or Latin phrase not from the famous Hollywood canine.
    If you go to the Toto website you'd be shocked on how many bands and artists they played with. Truly one of the greatest session bands of all time!
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdNo Jeff Porcaro suffered a heart attack brought on by drugs. His brother Steve who dated Rosanna also had written several film scores.
  • Michael from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Other"Rosanna" was written about Steve Porcaro's then-girlfriend, actress Rosanna Lauren Arquette. She starred "Desperately Seeking Susan" (1985), but was eclipsed by her co-star Madonna.
  • Michael from Ponce, Puerto Rico, OtherTo: Jay, Paris, TN...
    "I Won't Hold You Back" debuted in March 12, 1983 and made #10 in the Billboard Charts (USA). The others top 10 of TOTO were "Hold The Line" (#5 in 1979), "Rosanna" (#2 in 1982) & "Africa" (#1 in 1983). "I'll Be Over You" was #1 in Adult Contemporary Charts (1986).
  • Matt from Raleigh, NcThe unique drum beat in this song is called the "Purdie Shuffle" after famed studio drummer Bernard Purdie, who invented the drumbeat. This drumbeat (and drummer) is heard on "Babylon Sisters" by Steely Dan
  • Drew from Atlanta, GaThis song has been covered by Drew, Dave, and Scott Wilson many times. They recently made an appearance at Vintage Tavern and Dave's Dirty Deck.
  • Don from B G, KyThere is a dancer in the music video "Rosanna" that looks a lot like Patrick Swayze. The dancing gang-member who takes off the red jacket at the 4:20 mark.

    Anyone know if it was him? The song and video were released in 1982. No mention on IMDB about it.

    Here is a link to the music video:
  • Rob from Leeds , Englandaccording to a Toto website big Jeff died whilst gardening at home from an allergic reaction to pesticide, how Rock 'N'Roll lol

    Great drummer and great band my favouriteby them is Pamela

  • Rob from Leeds , EnglandI read that Jeff Porcaro died froman allergic reaction to pesticide whilst gardening lol hardly a rock 'n' roll ending to life
  • Ariana from Lima, Perui dont know why mccartney's jenny wren remindes me of this them both..
  • Jelmer from Nieuw-weerdinge, NetherlandsBest song of Toto is Angela!!
  • Sjoerd from Groningen, NorwayI am just curious why only "Africa" and "Roseanna" are mentioned. What about "Home of the Brave"? By far their the best TOTO song!!!
  • Phil from San Jose, CaMost of the band were studio cats that did alot for hire, if I am correct they even did theme music (like Ironside, etc), before Toto.
    The drummer also died of an overdose, after Toto
  • Brett from Auckland, New ZealandThis song was played in the first episode of a video show devoted to 70s and 80s music about 12 years ago - the first time I'd heard of these guys who are now my favourite band of all-time! The "TOTO IV" album actually yielded 5 charting singles in total.
  • Jay from Paris, TnThey also had aome success with a third song from the TOTO IV album. Its title is "I Won't Hold You Back Now". I believe it made it to the US Top 100 but failed to break the top 40.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThe third - and last - of three major hits for Toto, the others of course being "Hold The Line" and "Africa". A couple of the members of Toto (including Bobby Kimball, David Paich and Steve Lukather) also appeared in the line-up of a band called the Far Corporation, who had a UK Top 10 hit in 1985 with a cover version of the Led Zeppelin classic, "Stairway To Heaven".
  • Wes from New Orleans, LaAt the 1982 Grammy's " Rosanna" won awards for Record of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Instrumental Arrangement with Vocals, while the albumn "Toto IV" won awards for Albumn of the Year, Best Engineered Recording, and Best Producer
  • Rheppa from A Small One, DenmarkNo, Arquette didn't date Steve Lukather, but Steve Porcaro.

    It's a common mistake made by the media, and also published in a number of encyclopedias.
  • Kev from Scunthorpe, EnglandThere seems to be a mix up in the names.
    Rosanna Arquette was girlfriend of Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, on keyboard was David Paich, Drums Jeff Porcaro and Vocals Bobby Kimball.
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