Kid Creole and the Coconuts are an American band created and led by August Darnell. Their music incorporates styles like big band jazz, disco, and in particular Caribbean/Latin American salsa. The Coconuts are a glamorous trio of female backing vocalists whose lineup changes throughout the years. Thomas August Darnell Browder (aka August Darnell, aka Kid Creole) was born in Montreal, Canada, on 12 August 1950, the son of a French Canadian mother and a father from the Caribbean island of Dominica, but was raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx.
Thomas August Darnell Browder (aka August Darnell, aka Kid Creole) was born in Montreal, Canada, on 12 August 1950, the son of a French Canadian mother and a father from the Caribbean island of Dominica, but was raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx.
Darnell began his career in a band named The In-Laws with his half-brother in 1965, which disbanded so August could pursue a career as an English teacher. He obtained a masters degree, but in 1974 again formed a band with his half-brother under the name Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. They played to some initial success, reaching a gold and Top 40-charting album with their debut release, but could not match this on subsequent releases.
Darnell began producing for other artists before adopting the name Kid Creole (from the Elvis Presley film King Creole) in 1980, and forming The Coconuts, a trio of female backing vocalist/dancers, including his wife Adriana Kaegi, and a band including vibraphone player Andy Hernandez aka Coati Mundi. Cheryl Poirier joined that year as lead vocalist of the Coconuts, followed by Taryn Hagey as "Coconut #3" on background vocals in 1981. This line-up remained in place throughout the band's heyday. Hagey left the group in 1985 and was replaced by Janique Svedberg.
Their debut album was the heavily disco-influenced Off the Coast of Me, which was critically well-received but not successful commercially. The sophomore release Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places was a concept album matched with a New York Public Theatre stage production; it received rave reviews, and Darnell was recognized as a clever lyricist and astute composer, arranger and producer. The album charted briefly, and subsequently Coati Mundi's "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. 1983's Doppelganger was a relative commercial disappointment, despite the single "There's Something Wrong in Paradise" reaching the Top 40.
Kid Creole and the Coconuts were a spectacular live act, complete with lavish set designs with a tropical motif, wild costumes and intricate choreography by the Coconuts (provided by Kaegi). On stage they infused an energy, rhythm and playfulness in their music that drove audiences wild. Though Kid Creole never achieved mainstream success in the US, the band was hugely popular in major cities (especially its hometown NYC) and hit pop superstar status in England and Europe, where its eclecticism and sophistication were much more appreciated.
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 despite the hit "Endicott". 1990's Private Waters in the Great Divide had a hit with single "The Sex of It", a song written by Prince and recorded at Paisley Park Studios with Sheila E. It reached Top 40 in the US and UK and is to date one of his most well-known songs.
Darnell now lives in London (and occasionally Sweden and Denmark), and still tours with the Coconuts occasionally. He is currently collaborating with writer/producer Peter Schott on a Contemporary Opera, to be produced by Son Of Kong Productions.The project features vocals/guitar by former Creole band member and rising star Mark Anthony Jones.
Through 1997 to 2008 Kid Creole toured the UK whilst starring in the stage show Oh! What a Night, a disco musical produced by Random Concerts.
The Kid is currently working with Younger and Lord highOwl, from audio-visual electronica project 'Picture Book' (www.myspace.com/picturebookaregreat), on new material, due in the new year.