Formed in Cambridge (UK) in 1981 – although there was actually a prototype of the Waves back in 1975 – Katrina and the Waves were headed up by Kansas-born Katrina Leskanich.
Greying drummer Alex Cooper was an upper-class Britisher who could just as easily have been “working for the City of London and making a quarter of a million bucks a year.”
Guitarist/songwriter Kimberley Rew (Walking On Sunshine, Going Down To Liverpool) was a shy, former Cambridge University student of archaeology who once played with Robyn Hitchcock in the psychedelic cult band, The Soft Boys.
Bass guitarist Vince de la Cruz was a military brat – like Katrina – who grew up in Okinawa listening to Armed Forces Radio, then segued to an English air force base, where his Mexican-American father taught Spanish to the military.
Katrina and Vince met on a US military base in Norfolk in a Catholic folk choir, directed by Vince’s mother, at the base chapel. Their choral collaboration led them to form a secular rock & roll cover band called Mama’s Cookin’ in 1978.
Alex Cooper joined on drums a year later, and Mama’s Cookin’ amassed a repertoire of 150 songs that ran the gamut from American hard rock to country & western.
A few years earlier, Cooper had formed a group called The Waves with fellow Cambridge student Kimberley Rew, but the first version never made it beyond the confines of Cambridge. With Rew joining them after his stint in The Soft Boys, The Waves were reborn.
Their 1985 summer anthem Walking On Sunshine was a stomping, Motown-inspired, feel-good song, while their 1986 follow-up Sun Street was an ode to the joys of inebriation.
Despite a catchy piano-and-brass riff, it stalled at #22.
Then came the lost years, during which several albums came out in Germany, including Pet The Tiger, Edge Of The Land and Turn Around.
Kimberley Rew tried to repeat the Eurovision success, writing a Song For Europe nominee in 2000. Katrina Leskanich became a radio presenter, hosting a late-night Radio 2 show for a while.
Vince de la Cruz