Toto’s Steve Porcaro Names The Frank Zappa Album That Inspired ‘Rosanna’

Former Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro shared some exclusive details about the composing and writing process of the band’s iconic song ‘Rosanna’ during his recent interview with Music Radar. The musician unveiled the Frank Zappa album that greatly influenced their song.

Toto released their fourth studio album ‘Toto IV’ on April 8, 1982. The album’s tracks became very popular and received positive reviews from their fans and music critics worldwide. The band won many Grammy Awards and received many nominations thanks to the album in 1983. However, one of them contributed to these awards and nominations the most, ‘Rosanna,’ which was considered the album’s best song.

In addition, ‘Rosanna’ was awarded as Record of the Year, Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices, and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal but couldn’t win Song of the Year. It was written by David Paich, and its well-crafted sounds were appreciated a lot. Toto’s Steve Porcaro stated that Paich experimented on different approaches for this song, especially with his solo, but the keyboardist thought they needed something for the opening.

Actually, he wanted to do a Keith Emerson type of heroic opening in the beginning, but then they decided to use a blipped trumpet sound that was inspired by Frank Zappa’s double album entitled ‘Sheik Yerbouti’ released on March 3, 1979. Porcaro didn’t forget to pay tribute to Zappa’s legendary keyboardist, Tommy Mars, who was behind this sound. In this way, ‘Rosanna’ became an inseparable part of Toto’s legacy that was set in stone.

Porcaro stated in his interview that:

“‘Rosannawas coming together very quickly. I was staying at David’s studio, The Manor, working away on synth stuff, while he’d be down at the studio with the guys. At some point, he did a solo, and he even experimented with a Hammond thing and some ‘backward’ stuff. I was going ahead with my idea for a real grandiose solo.

Meanwhile, while I was working on it, they’d already done the horn arrangement. The horns had some lines that answered David’s solo. So all of that was there already. I remember walking in one day late at night after really thinking about it, and the opening phrase hit me. I wanted to do a Keith Emerson kind of heroic opening line that established ‘here I am,‘ but with the blipped trumpet sound that we copped from Frank Zappa’s ‘Sheik Yerbouti’ album. That’s where that came from, Tommy Mars with Zappa.”

You can listen to the song below.