Carlos Hawthorn reflects on the life of a man whose iconic hotel embodied Ibiza's glamour and excess.
But perhaps the greatest twist was yet to come. Napier-Bell, who was working with the UK pop group Wham! at the time, was scouting for somewhere glamorous to shoot a music video. A friend in the film industry had suggested Pikes, a former farmhouse in the San Antonio hills that had been turned into a luxury hotel. The setting was perfect. A few weeks later, Wham!, AKA George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, joined dozens of extras in skimpy swimsuits around the pool and shot the video for "Club Tropicana." Pike, who built the hotel by hand before opening it in 1978, starred as the roguishly good-looking barman with a straw hat and red neckerchief.
The video blew up on MTV and, in turn, transformed the fortunes of Pikes Hotel and its owner. It became a celebrity hotspot, a place for world-famous singers, actors and musicians to escape the industry and party hard. The list of notable guests is endless—Joan Baez, Jon Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, Kylie Minogue, Spandau Ballet, Julio Iglesias, Tony Curtis, Naomi Campbell, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Grace Jones, who Pike dated for a year, was a regular. Perhaps most famous of all, though, was Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who hosted a three-day bender at Pikes to celebrate his 41st birthday. Pike was the life and soul of these parties, always friendly, always cracking a joke or popping another bottle of champagne.
This joie de vivre continued right into Pike's later years, though life wasn't always easy. In 1995, having already lost many friends to AIDS, he was diagnosed himself, which led him to sell the hotel. In 1998, it went on the market and an offer came in, but it turned out to be a scam. Pike's son, Dale, flew to Miami to try and resolve the issue only to be brutally murdered the day he arrived. Pike kept hold of the property until 2008, when he sold it to its current owners, Ibiza Rocks. As part of the deal, he asked for a permanent room and free food and drink for life. Well into his '80s, he could be found sitting at the bar, admiring the stunning vista and regaling visitors with any of his dozens of riveting stories.
"He was a very, very kind person, a very generous person, and he just wanted people to have a good time," Arthur Smith, AKA Artwork, told Resident Advisor. Smith currently holds a DJ residency at Pikes. "He just wanted to get everyone together and have a party. That was the whole thing behind building that place. And it worked. He's one of these people who lived life just for the party and he got away with it. Most people who partied that hard don't make it but he did it. He's one of these people you just look at and think, 'Wow, you did this right. You played the game of life properly.'"