Soft Rock Music
Rupert Holmes wrote this song for his 1979 album Partners in Crime. He was looking for something up-tempo to balance out the ballads. They had laid down the beat, using two drummers, and the tune, but it was difficult to find the right lyrics. The day before the last scheduled day of recording, Holmes says he was in his apartment and looked through a copy of The Village Voice. He went through the personal columns because he says that people fascinate him. A woman had placed an ad in there that described herself in glowing terms. He thought that if she were that wonderful, why did she need an ad? Perhaps for adventure with a stranger. That’s the story behind the story of this song of a man who is tired of his lady and wants to escape with another after reading an ad in the personal columns. The twist is that his old lady was looking for something, too. She wrote the ad and they rediscover each other in O’Malley’s bar. Holmes says that the story is not based on his life.
Another bit of trivia is that Holmes actually doesn’t like piña coladas. The original lyric was “if you like Humphrey Bogart,” but that didn’t sing as well. Also, the song was first titled “Escape.” Once they added (The Piña Colada Song), it took off. The drink grew in popularity after this song was a hit.
The song was released as a single in 1979, backed with “Drop It.” It has the distinction of being the last #1 song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 1979 and the 1970s. It also went to #1 in Canada. It was #3 in Australia, #4 in New Zealand, #10 in Belgium, #13 in The Netherlands, and #23 in the U.K.
On the track were Rupert Holmes (vocals, keyboards, synthesizer), Dean Baling (guitar), Frank Gravis (bass), Leo Adamian (drums), and Steve Jordan (double drumming with Adamian).
Rupert Holmes is an accomplished musician and singer-songwriter, as well as the author of several Broadway Plays (e.g., Say Goodnight, Gracie and The Mystery of Edwin Drood), the TV series “Remember WENN,” and the novel Where the Truth Lies. He has won Tonys, Emmys, and Edgars. His songs have been performed by Barbra Streisand, Judy Collins, and Britney Spears. And yet…people know him for “The Piña Colada Song.” Such is show biz.