Rupert Holmes (born February 24, 1947) is a British-born American composer, singer-songwriter, musician, and author of plays, novels, and stories. He is best known for his number one pop hit "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" (1979/1980) and the song "Him", which reached the number 6 position on the Hot 100 U.S. pop chart in 1980. He is also known for his 1985 Tony Award-winning musical Drood (originally The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and his 2007 Drama Desk Award-winning book for the Broadway musical Curtains, and for his television series Remember WENN.


 [hide*1 Life and career

Life and career[edit]Edit

Holmes was born David Goldstein in NorthwichCheshire, England. His father, Leonard Eliot Goldstein, was a United States Army warrant officer and bandleader. His mother, Gwendolen Mary (neePynn),[1] was English, and both were musical. Holmes has dual British and American citizenship. The family moved when Holmes was six years old to the northern New York City suburb of Nanuet, New York, where Holmes grew up and attended nearby Nyack High School and then the Manhattan School of Music (majoring in clarinet). Holmes' brother, Richard, is an opera singer based in New York City and is the principal lyric baritone of the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, sings roles with regional opera companies, such as Glimmerglass Opera, Lake George, and Virginia Opera, among others, and has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera.

In 1969, Holmes married childhood friend Elizabeth "Liza" Wood Dreifuss, an attorney. Holmes' daughter Wendy died suddenly in 1986, at the age of ten, of an undiagnosed brain tumor. He has two sons, Nick and Timothy, the latter of whom has autism.

Songwriter and recording artist[edit]Edit

In his 20s, Holmes was a session musician (producing sessions, writing and arranging songs, singing and playing a few instruments). In 1969 Holmes and Ron Dante (The Cuff LinksThe Archies) recorded "Jennifer Tomkins" for release on their second album, The Cuff Links. During the recording of that album, Dante was prohibited by the studio that produced The Archies from any involvement in new recording ventures and was forced to drop out of The Cuff Links. Holmes finished the project and released "Jennifer Tomkins" separately under a different studio name, The Street People.[2] The song was on theBillboard (magazine) pop charts for 15 weeks, beginning January 3, 1970, reaching a peak of 36. A follow up single called "Thank You Girl" reached 96 on the Billboard pop charts in April 1970.

Holmes played the piano for both The Cuff Links and The Buoys,[3] with whom he had his first international hit, "Timothy", in 1971, a top-40 song about cannibalism.[4] He also wrote "Give Up Your Guns", "The Prince of Thieves", "Blood Knot" and "Tomorrow" for the band. "Timothy" charted in the U.S. at number 17 and "Give Up Your Guns" at number 84. Holmes also wrote jingles and pop tunes (including forGene Pitneythe Plattersthe DriftersWayne NewtonDolly PartonBarry Manilow and television's The Partridge Family).[3][5]

As a recording artist, Holmes broke through with his first album, 1974's Widescreen on Epic Records,[3] which introduced him as a presenter of highly romantic, lushly orchestrated "story songs" that told a witty narrative punctuated by clever rhymes and a hint of comedy. Barbra Streisand discovered this album and asked to record songs from it, launching Holmes on a successful career. She then used some of his songs in the movie A Star Is Born. Holmes also arranged, conducted, and wrote songs on her 1975 album Lazy Afternoon as well as five other Streisand albums.[6] Holmes' second, self-titled album led Rolling Stone to compare him with Bob Dylan in the sense of being an artist of unprecedented originality that commanded attention.

Holmes' production skills were also in demand during this period, and he took on this role for Lynsey De Paul on her album Tigers and Fireflies, which spawned the radio hit "Hollywood Romance". The album also featured a song, the bluesy "'Twas", co-written by the two. He additionally produced Sparks' 1976 LP, Big Beat, though the album was not a success. In 1975, together with Jeffrey Lesser, Holmes produced the UK band Sailor's album Trouble (CBS Epic).[7][8]

"Escape" was included on Holmes' fifth album, Partners in Crime, and was the last Hot 100 #1 of 1979. Another popular song on that album was "Him", which peaked at number 6 on the Hot 100. He had another top-40 hit with "Answering Machine". In 1986, Holmes's composition "You Got It All" (sometimes called "You Got It All Over Him") was a top 3 hit single for The Jets and was later recorded by pop superstar Britney Spears and featured in her internationally released version of Oops!... I Did It Again (2000). He also produced two songs for singer Judy Collins that appeared on her album Sanity and Grace.[citation needed] His song "The People That You Never Get to Love" was featured on four albums by Susannah McCorkle The People That You Never Get to Love (1981), From Bessie to Brazil (1993),Most Requested Songs (2001) and Ballad Essentials (2002). Frank Sinatra, Jr. also recorded the tune on his That Face! album (2006).

In the 1980s and 1990s Holmes also played in cabarets and comedy clubs, mostly in New York City, telling often autobiographical anecdotes illustrated with his songs.


Rupert Holmes made his professional debut as a playwright with the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, later known as Drood, in 1985. Holmes was encouraged to write a musical by Joseph Papp and his wife after they attended one of Holmes's cabarets in 1983. The result, loosely based on the Charles Dickens unfinished novel, and inspired by Holmes's memories of English pantomime shows he attended as a child, was a hit in New York's Central Park and on Broadway. Because the original novel was left unfinished after Dickens's death, Holmes employed the unusual device of providing alternate endings for each character who is suspected of the murder, and letting the audience vote on a different murderer each night. The show earned Holmes the Tony Award for both book and score, as well as the Drama Desk Awards for lyricsmusic, the book and orchestrations, among various other honors.[9] The musical has been given London and Broadway revivals, among others. The success of Drood would lead Holmes to write other plays (both musical and non-) in later years, though he has stated that he avoided musical theater for some time after the death of his daughter.

Holmes also wrote the Tony Award-nominated ("Best Play 2003") Say Goodnight, Gracie, based on the relationship between George Burns and Gracie Allen. The play, which starred Frank Gorshin, was that Broadway season's longest running play and the third longest-running solo-performance show in Broadway history.[10] He has also written the comedy-thriller Accomplice (1990), which was the second of Holmes's plays to receive an Edgar Award (following Drood). Holmes has written a number of other shows, including Solitary Confinement, which played on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre in 1992[11]and set a new Kennedy Center box office record before its Broadway run; Thumbs, the most successful play in the history of the Helen Hayes Theatre Company; and the musical Marty (2002), starring John C. Reilly.[12] Holmes also joined the creative team of Curtains, after the deaths of both Peter Stone (the original book-writer) and Fred Ebb (the lyricist). Holmes rewrote Stone's original book and contributed additional lyrics to the Kander and Ebb songs. Curtains played at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway, and David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk starred in the lead roles. Holmes and Peter Stone (posthumously) won the 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical for Curtains.

Holmes wrote the book of The First Wives' Club – The Musical, a musical theatre version of the film The First Wives Club, which played at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego, California from July 17, 2009 through August 23, 2009.[13] The score is by Lamont DozierBrian Holland and Eddie Holland.[14] Holmes had been engaged to write the musical in 2006.[15] The director of the San Diego production wasFrancesca Zambello,[16] with a cast including Karen ZiembaSheryl Lee RalphBarbara Walsh and John Dossett.[17][18] The production received generally unenthusiastic reviews but sold well.[19] After the run, Zambello dropped out as director, and the producers announced that they were seeking a new director and choreographer, for a possible Broadway production, but retaining Holmes.[20]

Holmes next wrote the book for a jukebox musicalRobin and the 7 Hoods, inspired by the 1964 film of the same name starring Frank Sinatra, with a new story line that Holmes set in the Mad Men era of 1962. Songs are by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, including "My Kind of Town". A production ran throughout August 2010, again at the Old Globe. Casey Nicholaw directed and choreographed. The story is about a likable gangster hoping to get out of the crime business. A do-gooding TV reporter likens him to a modern day Robin Hood.[21][22]

Holmes adapted the John Grisham novel and film of A Time to Kill for the stage. The play premiered at the Arena Stage, Washington, DC, running in May and June 2011.[23] The courtroom drama, set against a background of evolving 1980s Southern racial politics, has been called "funny, shocking, witty, and sly".[24]

He wrote the book and lyrics for a musical called The Nutty Professor, based on the 1963 film of the same nameMarvin Hamlisch wrote the score. The musical was directed by Jerry Lewis and played inNashville, Tennessee, in July and August 2012.[25][26]

Television writer and novelist[edit]Edit

In 1996 Holmes created the television series Remember WENN for American Movie Classics, writing the theme song and all 56 episodes of that series. In 2003 he published his first novelWhere the Truth Lies (later adapted into a film of the same name by Atom Egoyan), followed in 2005 by Swing, a multimedia release combining a novel with a music CD providing clues to the mystery. Holmes's newest novel,The McMasters Guide to Homicide: Murder Your Employer,[27] is slated for release in 2010.



Does not include others' collections or albums released without Holmes's participation:

  1. Widescreen. 1974 (Epic: KE 32864 or AL 32864)
  2. Rupert Holmes. 1975 (Epic: KE33443)
  3. Singles. 1976 (Epic: 34288)
  4. Pursuit of Happiness. 1978 (Private Stock/MCA: MCA 3241)
  5. Partners in Crime. 1979 (Infinity/MCA: INF 9020)
  6. Adventure. 1980 (MCA: 5129)
  7. Full Circle. 1981 (Elektra: P-11086E)
  8. Billboard Top Hits 1980. 1991 (Rhino: 70674)
  9. Scenario. 1994 (Victor: VICP-5469)
  10. Epoch Collection. 1994 (Varese Sarabande: VSD-5520)
  11. Widescreen (Re-Issue). 1995 (Varese Sarabande: VSD-5545)
  12. The Best of Rupert Holmes. 1998 (Half Moon/Universal: HMNCD 037)
  13. Rupert Holmes / Greatest Hits. 2000 (Hip-O /Universal: 314 541 557-2)
  14. Widescreen - The Collector's Edition. 2001 (Fynsworth Alley: 302 062 1162) (with eleven cuts not previously released).
  15. Cast of Characters - The Rupert Holmes Songbook. 2005 (Hip-O Select/Universal: B0004263-02) [Box set with previously unreleased tracks.]
  16. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Original Broadway Cast Recording. Polygram

Holmes also wrote and co-produced, and was a keyboardist on, the songs on the disco album Shobizz, released in 1979 by Capitol Records. He also featured as a vocalist on the 1983 album Lake Freeze - The Raccoons Songtrack by The Raccoons.


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US AC CAN NED NZ UK[28]
1974 "Terminal" Widescreen
"Our National Pastime"
1975 "I Don't Want To Hold Your Hand" Rupert Holmes
"Deco Lady"
1976 "Weekend Lover" Singles
"Who, What, When, Where, Why"
1978 "Bedside Companions" Pursuit of Happiness
"Let's Get Crazy Tonight" 72 59
1979 "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" 1 8 1 13 4 23 Partners in Crime
1980 "Him" 6 4 14 18 8 31
"Answering Machine" 32 12 85
"Morning Man" 68 21 Adventure
1981 "Blackjack"
"I Don't Need You" 56 21
"Loved By The One You Love" 35 Full Circle
1982 "The End" 31
"–" denotes releases that did not chart

Other works[edit]Edit


[1]Poster for Curtains on Broadway*Drood (originally The Mystery of Edwin Drood)

  • Twelfth Night
  • Accomplice
  • The Hamburger Hamlet
  • Solitary Confinement
  • Goosebumps
  • Say Goodnight, Gracie
  • Thumbs
  • Marty
  • Curtains
  • Swango
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • The First Wives' Club – The Musical
  • Robin and the 7 Hoods

Film and television projects[edit]Edit


  • Swing
  • Where the Truth Lies
  • The McMasters Guide to Homicide: Murder Your Employer
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