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“Baby Come Back” by That Band From the 70s

Updated: Mar 25

baby come back

Do you remember “Baby Come Back” by Player from 1978? Guilty as charged.

More than the song I remember the name of the band. Calling themselves Player I figure they wanted to be known as having all the right moves with the ladies.

Merriam-Webster defines the slang version of Player or “Playa” as “a person and especially a man who has many lovers.” I don’t know if Player was used as such in the 70s but if it was, the four guys in this band established the profile. 

Looking at their promotional photos I’m disappointed they don’t all have mustaches. The drummer, John Friesen, is the only one who does, but his mustache has such presence it's good enough for two.

Baby Come Back by Player

You Named Your Band Player?

Band founder and lead singer Peter Beckett explained in a Decades interview that they came up with the name watching the closing credits of an old film.

“Instead of saying ‘cast’ at the end it said ‘the players.’” They liked the sound but to be original, shortened it to ‘Player.’ Soon after, the band auditioned “Baby Come Back” for the A&R team at RSO Records and impressed the requisite musical geniuses.

The song was the obvious first single release for their self-titled debut album and quickly became a hit.

We’re Not Ambrosia, Orleans, or Hall & Oates

brosia, Orleans, or Hall & Oate

We’re Not Ambrosia, Orleans, or Hall & Oates

While on tour to promote the new album, their hot new single went to Number One. Increasingly, listeners thought it was Hall & Oates. A few years later, Beckett was touring and ran into Hall.

“I once did a gig with Daryl Hall in San Francisco and he said ‘Do you know what our most requested song is? Baby Come Back.’”

Player has been mistaken for other bands of the era including Ambrosia, Orleans and the Little River Band. The name Player may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but is cursed with an uncanny knack for confusion with artists using their actual names. In addition to Hall & Oates, Player has been mistaken for Stephen Bishop, Christopher Cross, Robbie Dupree, Ruppert Holmes, the Sanford Townsend Band, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, and - let me take a breath - England Dan & John Ford Coley. 

I used to confuse Player with Pablo Cruise, which, FYI, had no Hispanic members. Give Player credit. They crafted a fine, quintessentially American song and recording even though Beckett is British. No members of Toto or Michael McDonald were called in for the session.

Baby Come Back

It's a Hit!

No surprise that “Baby Come Back” was a hit. The hook is a winner with polished harmonies. It’s the perfect compliment to a drop-down living room, shag carpet, paneled walls and a night with that special lady, especially with the porn bass and Beckett’s electric guitar riffs. He used a Maestro phaser for the ‘wet’ guitar sound on his ES-335 in addition to a digital delay echo simulating the old Leslie speaker effect.

You can hear the Fender Rhodes electric piano throughout. At the bridge, we get a heavy-handed Clavinet and a dose of synthesizer, which appears to be a Minimoog, followed by Beckett’s solo. Add Friesen’s caveman drum fills and we got ourselves a hit rock & roll song.

Baby Come Back

Did Baby Come Back?

Baby come back, any kind of fool could see

There was something in everything about you

Baby come back, yeah, you can blame it all on me

'Cause I was wrong, and I just can't live without you

Beckett and Crowley wrote the song but we don’t know what they did to cause Baby to leave. I have my suspicions; you know those rock & roll guys. Musicians + Spirits + Late Nights = Apology.

Baby can blame it all on Player, at least Beckett and Crowley. 

As for the I just can't live without you line, take a breath guys. This isn’t a Nilsson or Harry Chapin song. Things can get better.

Rest assured, those rock & roll guys always bounce back and see the light. On that note, the second and final Top 40 hit for Player was appropriately titled “This Time I’m In It For Love.”

this time i'm in it for love
Session player Wayne Cook top right. Keyboards and mustache on "Baby Come Back"

What Kind of Players Were They?

In researching Player, I was admittedly rooting to find tales of drugs and depravity but no such luck. That’s not to assume they were Boy Scouts, but one look at these guys in 1978 and I think cannabis, cocktails, cocaine, Corvettes and Thank You! We Love You California!

Each member of the band is still with us and individually went on to have successful careers. Keyboardist J.C. Crowley wrote songs for other artists, bassist Ronn Moss is an actor, and drummer John Friesen founded a video company. Peter Beckett continues to tour under the name Peter Beckett’s Player and oddly enough, Burleigh Drummond of Ambrosia is the drummer.

baby come back
Peter Beckett 2021

Rock & Roll Survivors

It’s refreshing that the band members have lived to tell their tales. Rock & roll stories don’t often have happy endings. Player hit at the right time and made the most of it. Good for them. They didn’t burn themselves on the luminous flame of celebrity, nor did they carry the torch of degeneracy in the name of rock & roll. 

Perhaps that's why they've never been knighted or inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Any kind of fool could see.



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