Happy Birthday August Darnell! (aka Kid Creole)

Today marks the birthday of one of the most unique and entertaining musicians of my lifetime, Mr. August Darnell. He rose to prominence as Kid Creole, of Kid Creole and the Coconuts fame back in the early 80’s.

This Kid Creole

(NOT to be confused with the wannabe gangsta Kidd Creole that was just sent to prison!)

Not this Kidd…

My first introduction to Kid Creole and the Coconuts was the track “Lifeboat Party” which I saw the video for on a weird music show back in 1983 I believe. It was the height of the “New Wave” era, where all the rules were thrown out the window and new “mashup” sounds were all over (college) radio and the newly launched MTV. Kid Creole took it to another level, mixing R&B, calypso, reggae, big band and good old rock and roll into a sound never heard before (or since, for that matter!) On top of his insanely different music, his sense of style was off the charts and there was simply nobody like him. Needless to say, their “Doppelganger” album ended up in heavy rotation in my life, and stayed there for quite a long time.

I was lucky enough to catch their live show at Bimbo’s in San Francisco back around ’90/’91 and to this day it stands out as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Pure entertainment, with everybody on stage giving it 100%. The band was so tight and fluid, and the Kid… there are no words that can do him justice. He’s simply a born showman.

For reasons l could never fathom, Kid Creole and the Coconuts never really became a household name, despite a fair amount of radio play, and even a performance in the film “Against All Odds”, which was a HUGE movie at the time. Unfortunately, Phil Collins’ contributions to the soundtrack eclipsed Kid Creole and after that the band kinda drifted into obscurity, at least in the US. From what I understand, his European following is much stronger than the US side… in fact, one of my prized possessions is an “unavailable in the USA” Kid Creole and the Coconuts CD “Tropical Gangsters” that my brother-in-law found while traveling through the UK. Yeah, before the internet was “a thing”, European imports were hard to come by and heavily cherished!

Kid Creole and the Coconuts have been part of my life’s soundtrack for 40+ years now and if I had to pick my Top 10 Desert Island Discs, The Kid would DEFINITELY be there. After all, if you were stranded on a desert isle, who wouldn’t want to hang out with some Tropical Gangsters?!?

Happy Birthday Kid! Thanks for all the great times, the great tunes and the great memories!! You are A Wonderful Thing and one of a kind!

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