Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, January 12th

On this day in 1980: Rupert Holmes returned to the #1 spot on the U.S. singles chart with ‘Escape (The Pina Colada Song)’.

The song shot up the U.S. charts, becoming the last #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit of 1979 and of the 1970s decade. “Escape” was knocked out of the top spot but returned to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the second week of 1980, having been displaced for a week by KC & the Sunshine Band’s ‘Please Don’t Go.’  It was the first pop song to ascend to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in two different decades. The song was the 11th-best-selling single of 1980 on the Billboard year-end chart for that year.

Recorded for Holmes’s ‘Partners In Crime’ (1979) album, the song came from an unused track for which Holmes wrote temporary or “dummy” lyrics. As Holmes put it, “I thought, ‘what would happen to me if I answered this ad?’ I’d go and see if it was my own wife who was bored with me.” The title of the song was originally going to be “People Need Other People”, and was later to be revealed that it was a true story.

The chorus originally started with “If you like Humphrey Bogart”, which Holmes changed at the last minute, replacing the actor with the name of the first exotic cocktail that came to mind and fit the music.

The original lyrics said, “If you like Humphrey Bogart and getting caught in the rain.”…As I was getting on mic I thought to myself, I’ve done so many movie references to Bogart and wide-screen cinema on my earlier albums, maybe I shouldn’t do one here. I thought, What can I substitute? Well, this woman wants an escape, like she wants to go on vacation to the islands. When you go on vacation to the islands, when you sit on the beach and someone asks you if you’d like a drink, you never order a Budweiser, you don’t have a beer. You’re on vacation, you want a drink in a hollowed-out pineapple with the flags of all nations and a parasol. If the drink is blue you’d be very happy. And a long straw. I thought, What are those escape drinks? Let’s see, there’s daiquiri, mai tai, piña colada… I wonder what a piña colada tastes like? I’ve never even had one.
I thought that instead of singing, “If you like Humphrey Bogart,” with the emphasis on like, I could start it a syllable earlier and go, “If you like piña-a coladas.”

Here’s a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1980:

1 2 ESCAPE (The Pina Colada Song) Rupert Holmes (Infinity) 3rd Week (’79)*
2 3 ROCK WITH YOU –•– Michael Jackson (Epic)-11 (2)
3 5 DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME –•– The Captain and Tennille (Casablanca)-13 (3)
4 4 SEND ONE YOUR LOVE –•– Stevie Wonder (Tamla)-11 (4)
5 1 PLEASE DON’T GO –•– K.C. and the Sunshine Band (T.K.)-21 (1)
6 7 STILL –•– The Commodores (Motown)-16 (1)
7 8 COWARD OF THE COUNTY –•– Kenny Rogers (United Artists)-9 (7)
8 9 LADIES NIGHT –•– Kool and the Gang (De-Lite)-15 (8)
9 10 WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE –•– Cliff Richard (EMI-America)-13 (9)
10 6 BABE –•– Styx (A&M)-15 (1)

11 11 COOL CHANGE –•– Little River Band (Capitol)-13 (11)
12 12 CRUISIN’ –•– Smokey Robinson (Tamla)-15 (12)
13 13 THE LONG RUN –•– Eagles (Asylum)-6 (13)
14 15 BETTER LOVE NEXT TIME –•– Dr. Hook (Capitol)-14 (14)
15 16 JANE –•– Jefferson Starship (Grunt)-11 (15)
16 17 I WANNA BE YOUR LOVER –•– Prince (Warner Brothers)-8 (16)
17 18 THIS IS IT –•– Kenny Loggins (Columbia)-13 (17)
18 14 HEAD GAMES –•– Foreigner (Atlantic)-10 (14)
19 22 DON’T DO ME LIKE THAT –•– Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Backstreet)-9 (19)
20 25 SARA –•– Fleetwood Mac (Warner Brothers)-5 (20)


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