Kid Creole and the Coconuts
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|Kid Creole and the Coconuts|
Kid Creole in concert in 1987
|Origin||New York City|
|Labels||ZE, Island, Sire/Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, Machine|
|Past members||Coati Mundi
Jimmy Ripp (Rippetoe)
Mark Anthony Jones
'Bongo' Eddie Folk
Simon 'Franco' Frost
Kid Creole and the Coconuts is an American musical group created and led by August Darnell. Its music incorporates a variety of styles and influences, in particular a mix of disco and Latin American, South American, Caribbean, Trinidadian, and Calloway styles and conceptually inspired by the big band era. The Coconuts are a glamorous trio of female backing vocalists whose lineup has changed throughout the years.
Thomas August Darnell Browder was born in The Bronx, New York City, USA on August 12, 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 as August Darnell.
Growing up in the melting pot of the Bronx, Darnell was exposed early on to all kinds of music". Darnell began his musical career in a band named The In-Laws with his brother, Stony Browder, in 1965. The band disbanded so Darnell could pursue a career as an English teacher. Darnell obtained a master's degree in English, but in 1974 again formed a band with his brother Stony Browder Jr. under the name Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. Their self-titled debut release was a Top 40-charting album which was certified gold and was nominated for a Grammy.
Darnell began producing for other artists, such as Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band and Gichy Dan’s Beachwood No.9, before adopting the name Kid Creole (adapted from the Elvis Presley film King Creole) in 1980. The persona of Kid Creole is described as:
|“||Inspired by Cab Calloway and the Hollywood films of the 30s and 40s, the Kid fills out his colorful zoot suits with style and grace, dancing onstage with his inimitable, relentless and self-proclaimed cool.||”|
Kid Creole was to be "the larger-than-life central figure in a multi-racial, multi-cultural musical carnival." The co-founders of the band were Darnell and his Savannah Band associate vibraphone player Andy Hernandez, also known as his "trusty sidekick" Coati Mundi. Hernandez served as Darnell's on-stage comic foil, as well as his musical director and arranger. The original Coconuts, a trio of glamorous and often skimpily-attired backing vocalists, were led by Darnell's then-wife Adriana "Addy" Kaegi, who also served as the choreographer and costume designer of the Coconuts. On their earliest releases, the Coconuts were Kaegi, Cheryl Poirier and Lori Eastside; Eastside dropped out early, and was replaced by Taryn Hagey, who in turn was replaced by Janique Svedberg.
Throughout the 1980s, the band also included Peter Schott on keyboards (Schott also occasionally co-composed material with Darnell), drummer David Span, bass player Carol Colman, and legendary Jamaican drummer Winston Grennan. With horn players, percussionists and other adjunct members, the full band line-up often swelled to over a dozen players.
Their debut album Off the Coast of Me was critically well-received but not successful commercially. The second release Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places was a concept album matched with a New York Public Theater stage production; it received rave reviews, and Darnell was recognized as a clever lyricist and astute composer, arranger and producer. By the second album they were accompanied by the Pond life horn section Charlie Lagond, Ken Fradley and Lee Robertson, as well as lead guitarist Mark Mazur. They performed "Mister Softee" on Saturday Night Live during their promotional tour for the album. The album charted briefly, and subsequently Coati Mundi's early Latin rap "Me No Pop I", though not originally on the album, became a Top 40 UK hit single.
Their breakthrough came with 1982's Tropical Gangsters, which hit #3 in the UK and spun off three Top 10 hits with "Stool Pigeon", "Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy" and "I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby." "Dear Addy" also made the Top 40. In the US the album was retitled Wise Guy and reached #145, and "I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby" flirted with the R&B charts.
|“||Their live shows at this time were among the most propulsive and enchanting of the period, with outlandish dancing and cod theatricals garnishing the Latin beats."||”|
Darnell subsequently produced spin-off albums for the Coconuts. Coati Mundi also released his solo LP The Former 12 Year Old Genius before the fourth Kid Creole and the Coconuts album in 1983; Doppelganger was a relative commercial disappointment, despite the single "There's Something Wrong in Paradise" reaching the UK Top 40.
Darnell and Kaegi divorced in 1985, though she remained with the band. She and Cheryl Poirier also formed their own group, Boomerang with Perri Lister which released an album on the Atlantic label in 1986. Darnell continued Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and in the mid to late 1980s contributed to various film soundtracks and other such projects. He appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1986 and in this period released the albums In Praise of Older Women and Other Crimes and I, Too, Have Seen the Woods, neither of which charted.
In 1987, Kid Creole & The Coconuts made their only appearance on the US Hot 100 charts with "Hey Mambo", a track from Barry Manilow's Swing Street album. The single, credited to "Barry Manilow with Kid Creole & The Coconuts", peaked at #90.
Longtime associate Hernandez left the ensemble before 1990's Private Waters in the Great Divide, an album described by the NME as "a return to form with inspired lyrics and buckets of the type of sexual innuendo that Creole has made his own" The band had a UK hit with the single "The Sex of It", a song written by Prince and recorded at Paisley Park Studios with Sheila E and Levi Seacer, Jr.. Except for Darnell's vocal, the track is entirely performed by Prince and his associates; it is the group's last major hit to date.
After their 1992 album You Should Told Me You Were... failed to achieve significant commercial success, the group splintered. The female backing trio all left, and have been replaced with a rotating group of new Coconuts. With a revised and slimmed down line-up, the band kept releasing albums throughout the 90's, though none of these gained any kind of popular success. Despite still touring, the band went into a 10-year recording hiatus after their 2001 album Too Cool To Conga!, reemerging in 2011 with I Wake Up Screaming.
Kid Creole and The Coconuts have appeared in a number of films, such as Downtown 81 (1981) an art film starring Jean-Michel Basquiat, Against All Odds (1984) and the Lambada themed The Forbidden Dance (1990); They also starred in a TV movie, "There's Something Wrong in Paradise" in 1984, based around their songs and produced for Granada Television in the UK. Andy Hernandez has also made appearances in a number of films separately, and Adriana Kaegi produced and directed a documentary film about the band called Kid Creole and my Coconuts.
Darnell now lives in Hawaii and Sweden, and tours with the current Coconuts, Eva Tudor-Jones (Mama Coconut of 17 years from London), Jessica Forsman (from Finland, the newest member), Roos van Rossum (from the Netherlands). When they are not on the road Darnell, along with Eva, runs a martini bar and club in Maui, Hawaii, the Ambrosia Martini Lounge. They have also recently set up a new entertainment company in Hawaii, 2C2C Entertainment Group, devoted to live entertainment. They specialize in presenting new artists.
In 2008, for the last time, Kid Creole toured the UK starring in the stage show Oh! What a Night, a disco musical produced by Random Concerts.
Kid Creole and the Coconuts' most recent studio album, entitled I Wake Up Screaming, was released on September 12, 2011 on !K7/Strut Records. The single "I Do Believe" was released on July 19.
Darnell has also been back in the studio, re-mixing and re-mastering his favourite Kid Creole songs spanning his back catalogue with Master ToKo and Lord highOwl.
At the end of 2010, Kid Creole and the Coconuts toured Germany with The Night of the Proms, also starring Boy George and Sir Cliff Richard. They previously appeared in the Night of the Proms in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2007 with Chic, Macy Gray and Donna Summer.
- Off the Coast of Me (1980)
- Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places (1981)
- Tropical Gangsters (1982) (released in the U.S. as Wise Guy)
- Doppelganger (1983)
- In Praise of Older Women and Other Crimes (1985)
- I, Too, Have Seen the Woods (1987)
- Private Waters in the Great Divide (1990)
- You Shoulda Told Me You Were... (1991)
- KC2 Plays K2C (1993) (Japan only, backed by Kome Kome Club)
- To Travel Sideways (1995)
- Kiss Me Before the Light Changes (1995)
- The Conquest of You (1997)
- Too Cool to Conga! (2001)
- I Wake Up Screaming (2011)
- 1983 BRIT Awards - Best International Artist
- "Kid Creole & the Coconuts - Biography". Billboard. 1950-08-12. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
- Liner Notes from "Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1976–1983". Strut Records. 2008.
- "Kid creole & the coconuts | New Music And Songs |". Mtv.com. 1950-08-12. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
- "Kid Creole & the Coconuts - Music Biography, Credits and Discography : AllMusic:". Rovi Corp. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
- Linear Notes from "Kid Creole and the Coconuts Redux" Sire Records (1992). Sire Records. 1992.
- "Kid Creole.com > About The Band". 2010 Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Kid-Creole". NME.com. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Downtown 81 (1981) Full Cast & Crew". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
- "Kid Creole (I)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "There's Something Wrong In Paradise : Film". Citwf.com. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
- "Coati Mundi". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Kid Creole And My Coconuts Film". Kidcreoleandmycoconuts.com. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Oh What A Night :: Official Website". Ohwhatanight.com. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "I Wake Up Screaming". Strut-records.com. Retrieved 2012-09-23.