The Anglo/American pop group Katrina And The Waves were formed in 1982 when the four members met in Cambridge, England. American teenagers, singer and guitarist Katrina Leskanich and bassist Vince De La Cruz came to Britain in 1976 when their fathers who were serving in the American military were stationed near Feltwell in Norfolk. Cambridge University graduates, singer/songwriter and guitarist Kimberley Rew and drummer Alex Cooper had played together in a band called The Waves between 1975 and 1977 but had broken up when Rew left to join Robyn Hitchcock in the cult rock band The Soft Boys. Following the release of their 1980 second album Underwater Moonlight the Soft Boys split and Rew contacted his old friend Cooper who had been playing in a local low-key covers band Mama's Cookin'. The band had formed with Leskanich on guitar and vocals, De La Cruz on guitar, Cooper on drums and Bob Jakins on bass to play the US military bases in the UK.
Frustrated and homesick the Americans in the band were ready to quit and return to the States when Cooper suggested that Rew should join. Convinced it would work they renamed themselves The Waves, and although Rew initially sang lead on his original songs and Leskanich only on the covers, the guitarist started writing specifically for her and she ultimately became the band's focal point and lead singer. Following Jakins' departure De La Cruz switched to bass and The Waves made their recording debut with the double A-side 'Nightmare'/'Hey War Pig!' which Rew had included on his solo album The Bible Of Bop. Recognising the new line-up they changed their name to Katrina & The Waves and recorded an album's worth of songs that they pitched to numerous record companies. In 1983 the independent Attic Records who were already familiar with Rew having previously issued Soft Boys records in Canada, signed his new band and issued their recordings in Canada as Walking On Sunshine. Touring Canada to capitalise on the album's release they recorded Katrina & The Waves 2 in 1984 while at the same time the irresistible track 'Going Down To Liverpool' was picked up and covered by the American all girl band The Bangles for their debut album. Although when released as a single it failed to chart it garnered significant airplay in both the USA and the UK and gained interest from Capitol Records who contacted the song's writer Rew and his band and signed them.
With a major label deal under their belts the band were teamed with producer Pat Collier and set about re-recording both 'Walking On Sunshine' and 'Going Down To Liverpool'; their self-titled debut for Capitol featured both new versions plus songs drawn from their albums for Attic Records. Released as a single in 1985 the incredibly infectious 'Walking On Sunshine' became a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic reaching No 9 in the USA and No 8 in the UK and has since become a ubiquitous gold radio classic. While the subsequent single 'Do You Want Crying' parked itself just inside the US Top 40 the follow-up 'Que Te Quiero' failed to chart and released the following year Waves was less successful and only yielded a UK No 22 hit with 'Sun Street' which was written by De La Cruz. Concentrating on touring it was three years before Katrina & The Waves released Break Of Hearts (1989) which although failing to chart contained the American No 16 hit 'That's The Way'.
Subsequent albums Pet The Tiger (1991), Edge Of The Land (1993) and Turn Around (1994) found favour on continental Europe particularly in Germany but had absolutely no impact in the UK or the USA. In a surprising move Katrina And The Waves and Rew's song 'Love Shine A Light' were chosen by the British public to represent the UK at the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin. Perfectly capturing the spirit of the competition; anthemic with a sing-a-long chorus and more than a little schmaltzy the song was awarded an impressive 227 points (70 points ahead of its nearest rival) which made it the runaway winner. Ironically the song's composer Kimberley Rew chose not to take part in the band's performance at the Dublin finals wishing to disassociate himself from the event. Inevitably the track became a Top 3 hit in the UK although not big enough to propel the attendant album Walk On Water into the charts.
In 1999 Leskanich left the band after being offered a position as a late night DJ on the UK's BBC Radio 2, although she continued a parallel solo career which she returned to upon leaving the station in 2000. After releasing his second solo album Tunnel Into Summer in 2000 Rew rejoined Robyn Hitchcock in the reformed Soft Boys to record Nextdoorland (2002) before splitting again in 2003 since which time he has resumed his solo career as well as performing with his wife Lee in the band Jack and in the duo Kim & Lee.
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