August Darnell

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August Darnell
Birth nameThomas August Darnell Browder
Also known asKid Creole
Born (1950-08-12) August 12, 1950 (age 71)
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, bandleader, record producer
InstrumentsBass
Years active1965–present
Associated actsDr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band
Machine
Kid Creole and the Coconuts
Elbow Bones and the Racketeers

Thomas August Darnell Browder (born August 12, 1950),[1] known professionally as August Darnell and under the stage name Kid Creole, is an American musician, singer and songwriter. He co-founded Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band and subsequently formed and led Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Early life and career[edit]

Darnell was born in The Bronx in 1950. His mother was from South Carolina with Caribbean and Italian parents and his father from Savannah, Georgia. As an adult, Thom Browder began going by his two middle names, August Darnell. Claims in some sources that he was born in Montréal in Canada, are erroneous; according to Darnell they stem from the fictitious back-story behind the Kid Creole character.[2]

Growing up in the melting pot of the Bronx, Darnell was exposed early on to all kinds of music.[3] Darnell began his musical career in a band named The In-Laws with his half-brother, Stony Browder Jr., in 1965. The band disbanded so Darnell could pursue a career as an English teacher. He taught at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in Hempstead, New York after studying English and drama at Hofstra University. He later claimed that he established a musical career because he was a "frustrated actor".[4]

In 1974, again with Stony Browder, he formed Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, becoming its lyricist and bass player.[5] The band combined swing and Latin music with disco rhythms and had its biggest hit in 1976 with "Cherchez La Femme".[2] Their self-titled debut release was a Top 40-charting album which was certified gold and was nominated for a Grammy.

Kid Creole[edit]

In 1979, Darnell left Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. He joined the band Machine, and co-wrote their best known song "There But for the Grace of God Go I".[6][7] He also began producing for other artists, such as Don Armando's Second Avenue Rhumba Band and Gichy Dan's Beachwood No.9,[3] before adopting the name Kid Creole (adapted from the Elvis Presley film King Creole) in 1980. Darnell described the persona of Kid Creole as "a flamboyant, devil-may-care bon vivant".[8]

With his band and backing singers (including Darnell's then-wife, Adriana Kaegi), collectively known as Kid Creole and the Coconuts, he established an exuberant musical style drawing on such influences as big bands, notably that of Cab Calloway, salsa, jazz, pop music and disco. Darnell wrote the lyrics, which "satirised the high life at a time when America was ravaged by recession".[8] The group released three albums, Off the Coast of Me (1980), Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places (1981) and Tropical Gangsters (1982), that became especially popular and successful in Europe. Darnell also worked as a producer with acts on ZE Records.[2] However, the band was much less successful in the U.S., and was eventually dropped by Sony.[5]

In 1983, Darnell formed a new swing big band, Elbow Bones and the Racketeers, and gained the hit "Night in New York".[9]

Later life[edit]

Darnell moved to England in the 1980s, and later lived in Denmark, Sweden, and Maui,[4][8] and occasionally tours Kid Creole and the Coconuts with his European band. Darnell's daughter Savanna appeared on Love Island 2018. In 2019 Darnell married his girlfriend of 10 years, Eva Tudor-Jones in Maui. Eva has been a big part of the band's empire for 23 years, starting off as Mama Coconut in 1997 to now managing the band. Darnell and Eva share a daughter, born in Maui.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kid Creole & the Coconuts - Music Biography, Credits and Discography : AllMusic:". Rovi Corp. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
  2. ^ a b c Anderson, Jason (July 29, 2008). "The man behind the Kid". CBC News. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Liner notes from "Kid Creole and the Coconuts Redux" Sire Records (1992). Sire Records. 1992.
  4. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (May 19, 2016). "Dapper as Ever, Kid Creole Dresses Up His Songs for a New Musical". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Cornwell, Jane (April 22, 2010). "Kid Creole: back on the road less travelled". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Baines, Josh (6 August 2015). "10 Literally Perfect Dance Records". vice.com. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  7. ^ "There But for the Grace of God Go I - Machine". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Lester, Paul (7 September 2011). "Kid Creole: 'I'm not a party man any more'". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  9. ^ Elbow Bones and the Racketeers retrieved 13 August 2021