Rupert Holmes

Rupert Holmes (born February 24, 1947) is an AmericanBritish 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)” and the song “Him“, which reached the number 6 position on the Hot 100 U.S. pop chart, both in 1979; 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.

Holmes was born David Goldstein in Northwich, Cheshire, England. His father, Leonard Goldstein, was a United States Army Warrant Officer and bandleader, his mother, Gwen, was English, and both were musical. Holmes has dual American and British 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 (who has autism).

In his 20s, Holmes was a session musician (producing sessions, writing and arranging songs, singing and playing a few instruments). In March 1970, he and Ron Dante (The Cuff Links and The 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.[1] The song was on the Billboard (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, with whom he had his first international hit, “Timothy“, in 1971, a top-40 song about cannibalism.[2] He also wrote “Give Up Your Guns”, “The Prince of Thieves”, “Blood Knot” and “Tomorrow” for the band. “Timothy” charted at #17 and “Give Up Your Guns” at #84. Holmes also wrote jingles and pop tunes (including for Gene Pitney, the Platters, the Drifters, Wayne Newton, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and television’s The Partridge Family).[3]

As a recording artist, Holmes broke through with 1974’s Widescreen on Epic Records, 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. He also arranged, conducted and wrote songs on her 1975 album, Lazy Afternoon and five of her other albums.[4] 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.

“Escape” was included on Holmes’ fifth album, Partners in Crime, and reached the Hot 100 No. 1 Hits of 1979. The song hit #1 late in December 1979, becoming the last song to top the pop chart in the 1970s. The song fell to #2 for the first week of January 1980 and then rebounded to #1 the next week, making Holmes the only artist to ascend to the #1 spot with the same song in different decades. Another popular song on that album was “Him“, which peaked at #6 on the Hot 100. He had another top-40 hit with “Answering Machine” (#32). In 1986, Holmes’s composition “You Got It All” (sometimes called “You Got It All Over Him”) was a #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.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1986 Tony Awards.

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, would earn Holmes the Tony Award for both book and score, as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations, among various other honors. Holmes also orchestrated Drood himself, making him one of the few Broadway composers to write his own orchestrations. Because the original novel was left unfinished after Dickens’s death, Holmes came up with the unusual idea 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 success of Drood would lead Holmes to focus more on writing 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.

“What’s She Gonna Do Without Him?”

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. 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 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.[5] 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.

“In The Same Boat #1”

“Show People”

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 in San Diego from July 17, 2009 through August 23, 2009.[6] The score is by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Eddie Holland.[7] Holmes had been engaged to write the musical in 2006.[8] The director of the San Diego debut was Francesca Zambello.[9] The principal cast included Karen Ziemba as Annie, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Elyse, Barbara Walsh as Brenda and John Dossett as Aaron.[10][11] The production received generally unenthusiastic reviews.[12] After the run, Zambello dropped out as director, and the producers announced that they are seeking a new creative team for a possible Broadway run.[13] Holmes has several other theatrical projects planned.[14] In 1996 Holmes created the television series Remember WENN for American Movie Classics, writing all 56 episodes of that series. In 2003 he published his first novel, Where the Truth Lies (later filmed 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[15], is slated for release in 2010.

“Its A Business”

Quick Bio Facts:

Rupert HolmesRupert Holmes – Born: 24-Feb1947
Birthplace: Northwich, Cheshire, England

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Singer/Songwriter

Nationality: United States [1]
Executive summary: The Piña Colada Song

[1] Dual British and American citizenship, his father a US Army officer.

Father: (musician)
Wife: Elizabeth Wood Dreifuss (“Liza”, m. 1968, one daughter, two sons)
Daughter: Wendy (d. 1986 brain tumor)
Son: Nick
Son: Timothy

High School: Nyack High School, Nyack, NY
University: Manhattan School of Music

No Small Affair (9-Nov-1984)

Official Website:

Sources: YouTube, Wikipedia,,


1 Comment

  1. He writes some incredibly interesting stuff, and has remained a relevant writer and composer for almost 40 years. Thank you for recognizing his talent, and giving us insight into his works.

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