Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The music of Scott Baio

This is a photo of my grandmother with actor Scott Baio of Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi fame. And, later, Charles in Charge fame.

When I was a kid, a framed copy of this photo was nestled among the family photos in the family room of my grandparents' house. The grandchildren, including me, thought it was hilarious that a photo of Scott Baio was in the middle of our family's photos. 

The photo sat there for so many years that Scott Baio became kind of like a member of the family. The successful, good-looking family member who never calls, writes, or visits. 

I wasn't particularly interested in Scott Baio back then. I liked Happy Days well enough, I guess, and I met actor Donny Most, who played Ralph "The Mouth" Malph, at a car show. I got his autograph and immediately lost it. 

This photo of my grandmother seemed to provoke some interest in Baio among my extended family, though. My cousin, for example, bought a copy of Scott Baio's self-titled RCA album from 1982. I asked to borrow it, and she gave me a weird look. I think she was afraid that I wanted to make fun of it rather than genuinely and unironically enjoy the music contained within. If so, she was right—I just wanted to make fun of it. 

Baio actually recorded two albums for RCA in 1982-83. They're not good enough to be good, or bad enough to be "so bad they're good." The production is standard sterile-sounding early '80s shlock, over which Baio delivers his wobbly vocals.   

A few moments are funny. Like on the first album when Baio goes out of tune on "How Do You Talk to Girls" and "Midnight Confessions." Or on the second album's remake of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over," in which the unforgettable guitar riff from Kidd's version is performed on a rinky-dink keyboard. 

Baio's TV fan base bought enough copies of his debut album to keep it on the lower rungs of the Billboard album chart for four weeks, where it peaked at #181. RCA advertised the album as a "major market breakout" and claimed that its single—"What Was in That Kiss"—was a hit, but that was only wishful thinking on RCA's part. 

Sales of the album were robust enough for RCA to give Baio a second chance, so his second album, The Boys Are Out Tonight, was released in 1983. It was a total flop. The album didn't chart and didn't get much press either. 

Baio promoted it, though. He even appeared on American Bandstand to pal around with Dick Clark and perform "Some Girls" and "She's Trouble" from the album.  

To Baio's credit, his vocal performances were stronger the second time around. He'd probably been practicing. 

The second album's single, "Some Girls," is notable in that it was written by Chinnichap: Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the production team behind all those glam hits by Suzi Quatro, Sweet, Mud, Smokie, etc. "Some Girls" was a song that they originally offered to Blondie, but Blondie turned it down, so the British group Racey recorded it in 1979. I think I'd rather listen to Baio's version than Racey's. 

As far as I know, these albums were never released on manufactured compact discs, but now you can get them as print-on-demand CD-Rs at Amazon.

Weird trivia: The poster for Scott Baio's first album appears in the 1983 X-rated film Daughters of Discipline. It's seen in the background here but also is shown in a close-up shortly afterward:



What Was in that Kiss (stereo) b/w What Was in that Kiss (mono) (RCA JH-13256, 1982)

What Was in that Kiss b/w Looking for the Right Girl (RCA JH-13256, 1982)

Wanted for Love b/w same (RCA JH-13356, 1982)

Some Girls b/w Heartbreaker (RCA PB-13553, 1983)


Scott Baio (RCA Victor AFL1-4342, 1982)

  • Wanted for Love / What Was in That Kiss / Runnin' Out of Reasons to Go / How Do You Talk to Girls / Half the World // Woman I Love Only You / When You Find Someone Who Loves You / What Am I Supposed to Do / Looking for the Right Girl / Midnight Confessions

The Boys Are Out Tonight (RCA Victor AFL1-4696, 1983)

  • I'll Take You Back / Fingerprints / See How the Love Goes / Some Girls / The Boys Are Out Tonight // Can't You See That She's Mine / Shakin' All Over / Heartbreaker / Don't Talk / She's Trouble


  1. I feel a little bit dumber for having this information in my brain now. Damn internet!!

  2. Maybe Scott can perform at the Inauguration!!