Escape (The Piña Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes – 1979

March 27, 2014

Rupert Holmes - Escape - 1979The distinction of producing the final #1 US single of the 70s goes to the British-born American singer-songwriter, Rupert Holmes with the rather grating, Escape (The Piña Colada Song).

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  • Rupert Holmes was born in Northwich, in the UK. His family moved to New York when he was six years old.
  • Rupert is best known for that song! Escape (The Piña Colada Song) which, it may surprise you, was not his only hit. He followed it up with “Him”, which peaked at #6 on the US charts.
  • Rupert is also a novelist, composer of musicals and screenwriter. In 1985 his musical Drood (originally The Mystery of Edwin Drood) won a Tony Award. In 2007, he won a Drama Desk Award-for his book for the Broadway musical Curtains. He wrote the television series Remember WENN.
  • On the music side of things, Rupert played piano for The Cuff Links wrote songs for a number of artists including: Gene Pitney, the Platters, the Drifters, Wayne Newton, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and The Partridge Family).

escape (the piña colada song) fax

  • Escape (The Piña Colada Song) was written and recorded by American singer Rupert Holmes.
  • It was released on 21 September 1979 as the lead single from Rupert’s third album, Partners in Crime.
  • Escape (The Piña Colada Song) was the last US #1 single of the 70s. In the first week of the 1980s Escape (The Piña Colada Song), was replaced at #1 by KC and the Sunshine Band’s, Please Don’t Go before returning to #1 for another week.
  • The chorus of the song originally began, “if you like Humphrey Bogart.” Rupert changed it at the last minute with the first cocktail name he could think of.
  • Rupert sees the song as a case of “good news and bad news.” The good news is it made him wealthy and famous. The bad news is, as one of his friends described it,

It is the hit success that ruined his career.

escape (the piña colada song) – rupert holmes – 1979 – video

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Devil Gate Drive – Suzi Quatro – 1974

March 21, 2014

Suzi_Quatro_Devil_Gate_Drive_single_coverIf there’s ever been a female star I’ve had a thing for, apart from Linda Ronstadt, it has to be Suzi Quatro, who had two UK #1 hit singles back in the early 70s; this is the 1974 hit, Devil Gate Drive.

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  • Born in the USA, based in the UK, Susan Kay Quatro was the first female bass player to become a major rock star. Suzi is often credited with breaking the barriers to women’s participation in rock music.
  • Suzi began playing bass in her sister’s band, The Pleasure Seekers,Suzi quatro 1 back in 1964 – she was just 14.
  • In 1971, she moved to England after being seen by record producer Mickie Most – he had no interest in the other members of the band.
  • Mickie was looking for a female rock singer who could fill the gap left following the death of Janis Joplin. Suzi explains:

According to the Elektra president, I could become the new Janis Joplin. Mickie Most offered to take me to England and make me the first Suzi Quatro — I didn’t want to be the new anybody.

  • Once in the UK, Suzi spent a year living in a hotel while being coached in the ways of rock ‘n’ roll by Mickie.
  • In 1972, Suzi’s first single was released. It bombed, but her secoSuzi quatro 2nd, Can The Can, went to #1 in the UK and Australia. There followed four more hit singles and a string of hit albums.
  • None of her early success was in the US, however. That came in the late 70s after she had appeared in the American sitcom Happy Days. Her subsequent duet “Stumblin’ In” with Chris Norman reached #4 in the USA in 1979. Ironically, it barely dented the UK chart.
  • In all, Suzi has sold over 50 million albums. The most recent was released in 2011. She continues to perform live and continues to present radio programmes.

suzi quotes

In a 2012 interview, Suzi was asked what she thought she had achieved for female rockers in general. She replied:

Before I did what I did, we didn’t have a place in rock ‘n’ roll. Not really. You had your Grace Slicks and all that, but that’s not what I did. I was the first to be taken seriously as a female rock ‘n’ roll musician and singer. That hadn’t been done before. I played the boys at their own game. For everybody that came afterward, it was a little bit easier, which is good. I’m proud of that. If I have a legacy, that’s what it is. It’s nothing I take lightly. It was gonna happen sooner or later. In 2014, I will have done my job 50 years. It was gonna be done by somebody, and I think it fell to me to do because I don’t look at gender. I never have. It doesn’t occur to me if a 6-foot-tall guy has pissed me off not to square up to him. That’s just the way I am. If I wanted to play a bass solo, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t. When I saw Elvis for the first time when I was 5, I decided I wanted to be him, and it didn’t occur to me that he was a guy. That’s why it had to fall to somebody like me.]

In a 1973 interview, Suzi sympathised with many of the opinions voiced by the women’s liberation movement whilst distancing herself from it because she considered that the participants were;

…completely hypocritical. Their leaders stand up there and say, ‘We’re individuals blab blab blab,’ and yet they’re all in a group following like sheep. For me, I cannot put the two together … I’m talking about the masses that follow [the movement’s leaders who get press attention] and who have nothing at all to say. It gives it all a very phoney light. I hope they can find a way to apply it to their own lives, because grouping together takes away the whole idea of Women’s Lib.

Rock critic Philip Auslander says:

Although there were many women in rock by the late 1960s, most performed only as singers, a traditionally feminine position in popular music. Though some women (like Quatro herself) played instruments in American all-female garage rock bands, none of these bands achieved more than regional success. So they did not provide viable templates for women’s on-going participation in rock. When Quatro emerged in 1973, no other prominent female musician worked in rock simultaneously as a singer, instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Indds that in 2000 Quatro saw herself as kicking down the male door in rock and roll and proving that a female musician … and this is a point I am extremely concerned about … could play as well if not better than the boys.

devil gate drive fax

  • Devil Gate Drive is the second of Suzi Quatro’s two #1 UK singles – it spent two weeks at the top of the chart in February 1974. (She did hit #1 once again – 13 years and 26 days later (as part of the Ferry Aid band in a charity version of the Lennon–McCartney song, Let It Be).
  • Devil Gate Drive was written and produced by hit writing duo, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman – it was the second number one in a row for the ChinniChap writing and production team, following the success of Mud’s Tiger Feet.
  • Devil Gate Drive featured on the show Happy Days, during season 5, on the episode “Fonzie and Leather Tuscadero, Part II”. Quatro played Leather Tuscadero on the show.
  • Devil Gate Drive lyrics.

devil gate drive – suzi quarto – 1974 – video

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Dreadlock Holiday – 10CC – 1978

March 13, 2014

10CC - Dreadlock Holiday - 1978 - coverMulti-instrumentalists – very talented – seven top 10 UK hits – 3 #1’s – but not a band I ever really got into all that much… but, you can’t deny talent. Nor can you deny the quirkiness of the 1978 10CC hit, Dreadlock Holiday.

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  • Still performing today (with a couple of breaks in the middle there somewhere), 10CC is an English band who formed in the early 70s.
  • Actually, the four founding band members – Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Crème – had been together for quite a few years before that, recording a number of songs under various names.10cc 1
  • The band members came as a pair of songwriting pairs. Eric and Graham were predominantly pop-song-writers – they created the band’s more commercial songs. Kevin and Lol were more experimental in their music.
  • 10cc had seven top 10 singles in the UK with three of them, Rubber Bullets, Dreadlock Holiday and I’m Not In Love, reaching #1.

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  • Released in July 1978, Dreadlock Holiday was written by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman
  • Dreadlock Holiday was the first single off 10CC’s album, Bloody Tourists.
  • Dreadlock Holiday was based on real events experienced by Eric and Justin Haywood when they visited Barbados. It is the story of a white man lost in Jamaica. In his first encounter with locals he is confronted in the street by an unpleasant dreadlocked man who wants his silver necklace. His next encounter is beside the pool of his hotel. He’s sipping a Pina Colada when a dark-voiced woman offers him drugs. The man then attempts to avoid trouble by telling the aggressors that he likes cricket just like they do.
  • Dreadlock Holiday was 10CC’s third and final #1 UK single. It never featured on the US charts, although their song, I’m Not In Love, peaked at #2 three years earlier.
  • Dreadlock Holiday was covered by Boney M on their 1985 album, Eye Dance.
  • Dreadlock Holiday lyrics.

dreadlock holiday – 10cc – 1978 – video

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Shannon – Henry Gross – 1976

March 6, 2014

Henry Gross Shannon 1976Almost certainly not the greatest song ever written! Shannon was a number one hit in 1976 for ex-Sha-Na-Na frontman, Henry Gross.

henry gross fax

  • Many people, even back in the 70s, do not realise that American singer-songwriter Henry Gross was a founding member of Sha Na Na. He played guitar.
  • An interesting fact about Henry and Sha Na Na is that when he left the band Vinnie Taylor replaced him. Vinny died of a drug overdose in 1974. He was subsequently replaced by prison escapee and child-killer Elmer Edward Solly who assumed Vinnie’s identity and performed as him. It was that which eventually led to his being recaptured.
  • Ready for another interesting fact? Aged 18, Henry was the youngest person to play on the main stage at the Woodstock.
  • Henry Gross 2Henry left Sha Na Na in 1970 and began to forge a solo career that has continued to this very day. He has released 17 albums, the last one in 2011.
  • Despite this number of albums, Henry has had only one hit record, Shannon in 1976.
  • Henry wrote a stage play about his life, it’s called One Hit Wanderer.

shannon fax

  • Shannon was written and sung by Henry Gross. It became a worldwide hit selling over a million copies in the US alone where it peaked at #6 on the singles charts. It reached #1 in Canada and #32 in the UK.
  • Shannon was written about the death of Beach Boy Carl Wilson’s Irish Setter of the same name.
  • Shannon was the subject of a profanity-laced tirade by American Top 40 host Casey Kasem, while recording the September 14, 1985 show. A listener from Cincinnati, Ohio had requested Shannon as a dedication to his own deceased dog. Casey was upset that the show’s producers had placed the dedication immediately following the Pointer Sisters’ hit Dare Me, an up-tempo song that Casey considered a poor lead-in to a sad song such as Shannon. The tirade did not originally air but the outtakes were distributed years later and wound up on U2’s Negativland.
  • Shannon lyrics.

shannon – henry gross – 1976 – video

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