January 1978: Player Hits #1 with "Baby Come Back"

Player perform on stage, New York, USA, circa 1977, L-R Ronn Moss, Peter Beckett, John Friesen, JC Crowley. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
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(Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Peter Beckett was a British musician who moved to Los Angeles in the '70s to make it in the industry. Linking up with fellow aspiring songwriter J.C Crowley at a Hollywood party, the pair would start writing songs together, in search of that ever-elusive hit. It finally came in the form of instant yacht-rock classic, "Baby Come Back."

"We were turned down so many times all along the way; I can’t even tell you how many times until we came up with 'Baby Come Back' and that changed everything," Beckett told Rock Cellar about the origins of the band Player, when he and Crowley would play their songs on acoustic guitar in record company offices. "Suddenly, we were playing three or four songs and then we’d play 'Baby Come Back' and they’d be like, “Oh my God!” You could see it in their faces. We’d found a little gem and it was a little easier from then on."

According to Beckett, the song's secret weapon comes right at the beginning: "That particular chord that opens up 'Baby Come Back,' it’s a G with an A bass and it was a chord that I learned. It’s a very, very common R&B chord. Hall & Oates used it a lot, and a lot of the ‘70s bands used it." The song's heavy Hall & Oates feel is such that Daryl Hall himself once told Beckett that "Baby Come Back" was "our most requested song."

Released as a single in October 1977, "Baby Come Back" would climb the Hot 100 before hitting the #1 spot on January 14, 1978. The song would hold the top spot for three weeks, finally falling to "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees on February 4, 1978.

"We were on the Sunset Strip in a place called Butterfield’s across from the Hyatt and we were having lunch and a couple of glasses of wine and I think we were gonna drive towards Beverly Hills to meet somebody and 'Baby Come Back' came on in the car and it was absolutely amazing," Beckett remembered of the first time he heard the song played on the radio.

"But even more so than that, we were rehearsing to go out on our first tour which was opening for Gino Vannelli. It was a very short tour, about three gigs. We were supposed to go to Buffalo so we were rehearsing a half hour set in this little joint called 'Rats' in Studio City, which fit the place perfectly," Beckett added. "Strangely enough, Air Supply, who hadn’t had a hit yet, were in the next room. We were just playing and our manager comes running in and he said, 'You’re not gonna believe it!' and he’s holding Billboard magazine. He said 'Baby Come Back' is number 80 on the Hot 100!' None of us had ever had a hit in our lives, and number 80 was more remarkable to me than when it was number one’ cause you kind of got used to it as the song went up the charts and went up the charts and went up. But number 80 on the charts, wow! That was a magic moment."

FUN FACT: Player bass player, Ronn Moss, would later become a popular soap opera actor on TV show The Bold and the Beautiful as character Ridge Forrester. His stint on the show would run from 1987 through 2012.

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