“Rosanna” was written by Toto co-founder David Paich. It has long been assumed that the song was about actress Rosanna Arquette, who was dating Toto keyboard player Steve Porcaro at the time. Not exactly. Paich told Songfacts that the song is based on a girl he had dated in high school. He just used Rosanna’s name because it sounded good. As a joke, the band members initially played along with the rumor. Arquette herself played along with it, telling Rolling Stone in 1983 that the song was about “my showing up at 4 a.m., bringing them juice and beer at their sessions.”
Released in 1982 as the first single from Toto IV, “Rosanna” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and performed well on charts all over the world. The West Side Story-inspired video features actress and dancer Cynthia Rhodes in the title role. It was a phenomenal career move for Rhodes. She would go on to appear in the films Flashdance, Staying Alive, and Dirty Dancing. If you look closely, you’ll see Cynthia’s Dirty Dancing co-star Patrick Swayze playing a gang member in a red jacket.