Saturday, December 22, 1979

Rupert Holmes “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” hit #1

Escape (The Piña Colada Song)

Rupert Holmes

Writer(s): Rupert Holmes (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 19, 1979

Peak: 13 US, 13 CB, 14 GR, 14 HR, 13 RR, 8 AC, 13 CL, 23 UK, 12 CN, 3 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 95.57 video, 428.18 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rupert Holmes “had been part of the pop-music dream factory for a decade when he got to #1.” SG He was born in 1947 in Northwich, England. His father was an American Army officer and his mom was English. They moved to New York when he was 6 and he latter attended the Manhattan School of Music. In 1969, he joined “an anonymous bubblegum group” SG called the Cuff Links before having chart success with Street People (“Jennifer Tomkins,” #36, 1970) and the Buoys (“Timothy,” #17, 1971). He also wrote jingles and material for other artists, including songs for the soundtrack for A Star Is Born.

He released four solo albums from 1974 to 1978. “None of them sold, but those records helped Holmes build a name for himself as a writer of funny, irony-infused story-songs.” SG He achieved his first success as a solo artist with “Let’s Get Crazy Tonight,” a minor hit (#72) from his fourth solo album, 1978’s Pursuit of Happiness. Holmes jokingly described his career as “the Poseidon Adventure of pop.” FB

However, he finally achieved chart-topping success with “Escape,” the last #1 song of the 1970s. It is an “infernally catchy soft-rock ditty, an infidelity-themed story-song that ends in an O. Henry twist.” SG Holmes got the idea for the song while reading the newspaper The Village Voice. The narrator is bored with his relationship and responds to a personal ad by someone who likes, among other things, piña coladas. He says they should meet at a bar to plan their escape. It ends up being his own girlfriend and both are pleasantly surprised to find out things they never knew about each other.

Holmes saw the guy as “so vain it never occurs to him that the girl was also bored…When he meets her, it’s kind of a comeuppance. She’s the strong one because she instigated the thing. Hopefully, they see each other in a new light.” FB It makes for good storytelling, but raises questions. They have “elementary preferences that they haven’t communicated,” SG discovered only because they tried to cheat on each other. What chance does this couple have for success? Ultimately, though, it makes for a fantastic pop song precisely because it achieves the unusual quality of challenging the listener to ask such questions.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Rupert Holmes
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 518.
  • SG Stereogum (3/9/2020). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 12/6/2022.

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