Katrina and the Waves

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = Katrina and the Waves

Img_capt = Katrina and the Waves on cassette cover in 1985
Background = group_or_band
Alias = The Waves
Origin = Cambridge, England
Instrument =
Genre = New Wave, Pop rock
Occupation =
Years_active = 1981–1997
Label = EMI/Capitol
Associated_acts =
URL = http://www.katw.com/
Current_members =
Past_members = Katrina Leskanich Kimberley Rew Alex Cooper Vince de la Cruz

Katrina and the Waves were a pop rock band of the 1980s, best known for their 1985 hit "Walking on Sunshine" and their 1997 Eurovision Song Contest victory with the song "Love Shine a Light".


Pre-history: The Waves and Mama's Cookin' (1975-1980)

The band's earliest incarnation was as The Waves, a group that played in and around Cambridge, England from 1975-77 and featured guitarist Kimberley Rew and drummer Alex Cooper. This incarnation of the Waves never issued any recordings, and broke up when Rew left to join the Soft Boys.

Cooper eventually joined the pop/soul cover band Mama's Cookin' in 1979. This band featured Katrina Leskanich on vocals and guitar; her then-boyfriend Vince de la Cruz on guitar; Cooper on drums and Bob Jakins on bass. Mama's Cookin' proceeded to gig steadily in England over the next two years, specializing in covers of songs by American acts such as Heart, Foreigner, Linda Ronstadt, and ZZ Top.

When The Soft Boys broke up in 1981, Rew contacted his old Wave-mate Cooper to see about renewing their musical partnership. Cooper convinced Rew to join Mama's Cookin', and the group was quickly re-named "The Waves" after the band Rew and Cooper had been in together in the mid-1970s.

Early days as "The Waves" (1981-82)

The Waves were initially fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Rew, who brought a wealth of original material to the band. Leskanich, meanwhile, originally only sang lead vocals on the cover tunes in the band's repertoire. However, over the first year of the Waves' existence, Rew began to write material for Leskanich to sing, and she was soon the primary vocalist.

Rounding out the Waves were de la Cruz on guitar, Jakins on bass, and Cooper on drums,

The Waves made their initial recorded appearances on a 1982 single ("Nightmare"/"Hey, War Pig!"); both tracks were included on the 1982 Rew solo album called "The Bible of Bop". The Waves then issued their debut EP "Shock Horror" later in 1982. Around this time, bassist Jakins left the band. Jakins was not replaced, as de la Cruz took over on bass and the band was rechristened Katrina and the Waves.

Early Canadian success (1983-84)

In early 1983, the fledgling band recorded - at their own expense - an LP of their original material designed to be sold at gigs. Rew wrote all the songs on this LP, while Leskanich sang eight of the album's ten tracks. (Rew sang lead on the other two.)

The LP was shopped around to various labels, but only Attic Records in Canada responded with an offer. Consequently, although they were based in England, Katrina and The Waves' first album "Walking On Sunshine" was released only in Canada.

The album garnered enough critical attention and radio play (especially for the title track) to merit a Canadian tour. In 1984, the group released a follow-up album in Canada ("Katrina and the Waves 2"), with Leskanich now handling all the lead vocals. Rew was still the primary songwriter, but de la Cruz was also responsible for a few songs, including the Canadian airplay hit "Mexico".

Also in 1984, their song “Going Down to Liverpool” was covered by the Bangles, which added to their profile. With the group building a fan base with their recordings and extensive touring, major label interest began to build, and Katrina and the Waves eventually signed an international deal with Capitol Records in 1985.

"Walking On Sunshine" and international success (1985-1989)

For the first Capitol album, the band re-recorded, remixed, or overdubbed 10 songs from their earlier Canadian releases to create their self-titled international 'debut' album in 1985.

The "Katrina and the Waves" album was a substantial critical and commercial success, and the group had a worldwide hit with the song "Walking on Sunshine," (#9 US, #8 UK) (a completely re-recorded, and substantially rearranged version of the song when compared to its initial 1983 Canada-only release). A Grammy award nominee for "Best New Artist" followed, as did constant touring, both of which helped to spur moderate sales of new releases.

A follow-up single to "Walking on Sunshine" called "Do You Want Crying" (written by de la Cruz) also became a top 40 US hit reaching #37 in the late summer of 1985.

However, the band's follow-up album to "Katrina and the Waves" (simply entitled "Waves") didn't meet with the same measure of success, either critically or commercially. Rew wrote only two of the ten songs on the LP; de la Cruz and Leskanich each wrote four. Drummer Cooper, interviewed some years later, claimed "It was (a) mistake when we started taking over from Kimberley in the musical contribution side. The second Capitol album was awful...". The album did spin off a minor UK and US hit in the form of the Rew-penned "Is That It?" (#70 US, #82 UK), and "Sun Street" (a de la Cruz composition) was a UK Top 30 hit in 1986. However, Capitol dropped the band after the "Waves" album didn't perform to expectations.

The band subsequently recorded a 1989 album for SBK Records called "Break of Hearts", a harder, more rock-oriented effort than their previous releases. The album included "That's the Way" which reached #16 in the US (credited to Leskanich/Rew), but subsequent singles, including the infectious "Rock'n'Roll Girl", failed to chart, and the band once again was dropped from their label.

Downturn and surprise comeback (1990-1997)

Throughout the nineties, Katrina and the Waves recorded fairly steadily, though most releases were available only in continental Europe and/or Canada, and they issued no charting singles. Fact|date=September 2008

By the late nineties, however, the band had all but disappeared -- until they surprisingly (if briefly) surged back into the limelight by winning the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom on 3 May 1997 with the song "Love Shine a Light". Reacting to the win, Katrina said it was the second landslide victory in a week; the song won by a record points margin, and Tony Blair had won the 1997 British general election two days previously. The song won by a record margin of 70 points over the Irish runner-up. [O'Connor, John Kennedy. The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History. Carlton Books, UK. 2007 ISBN 978-1-84442-994-3]

"Love Shine a Light" became Katrina and the Waves' biggest-ever UK hit, peaking at #3.

Dissolution and aftermath

Despite their return to the public eye in the UK, Katrina and the Waves were not able to follow up "Love Shine a Light" with another hit, and Katrina Leskanich left the band in 1998 after several disagreements within the band. Legal wrangling followed, preventing Leskanich from using the band name and the band themselves became somewhat lost without their lead singer. Though attempts were made to find a new "Katrina" to front the group, the remaining Waves eventually dissolved the band to pursue individual careers.

Six years after the original band split up, Katrina formed a new group in an attempt to repeat the Waves' Eurovision triumph, this time in Sweden. At the 2005 Melodifestivalen (the competition to select Sweden's Eurovision entry) the group failed to qualify directly from the fourth semi-final of the competition, and were eventually eliminated in a 'second-chance semi'. Having planned to call themselves "Katrina and the New Wave", they dubbed themselves "Katrina and the Nameless" after legal objections from the original Waves.

Hurricane "Katrina"

When Hurricane Katrina and its storm surge devastated much of the U.S. Gulf Coast in September 2005, the MSNBC news program, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," dubbed its coverage of the hurricane, "Katrina and the Waves"; the name also appeared in numerous headlines and blog postings. A "New York Times" reporter contacted Katrina Leskanich, who said: "The first time I opened the paper and saw 'Katrina kills 9,' it was a bit of a shock. ... I hope that the true spirit of 'Walking on Sunshine' will prevail. I would hate for the title to be tinged with sadness, and I will have to do my own part to help turn that around." [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/01/arts/01arts.html "Katrinas React to Katrina",] "New York Times," September 1, 2005]


* Katrina Leskanich - vocals, rhythm guitar
* Kimberley Rew - lead guitar
* Alex Cooper - drums
* Vince de la Cruz - bass



* "Shock Horror" (1983) (as "The Waves")
* "Walking on Sunshine" (1983)
* "Katrina and the Waves 2" (1984)
* "Katrina and the Waves" (1985) #28 UK
* "Waves" (1986) #25 US
* "Break of Hearts" (1989) #122 US*
* "Pet The Tiger" (1991)
* "Edge of the Land" (1993)
* "Turnaround" (1994)
* "Walk on Water" (1997)

Compilation albums

* "Roses" (1995) (Canadian release only -- compiles tracks from "Edge of the Land" and "Turnaround")
* "Katrina and the Waves / Waves" (1996)
* "Walking on Sunshine - Greatest Hits" (1997)
* "The Original Recordings - 1983-1984" (2003)


* "Nightmare" (1982) (as "The Waves")
* "Brown Eyed Son" (1982) (as "The Waves")
* "Que Te Quiero" (1983) #84 UK
* "Plastic Man" (1984)
* "Walking on Sunshine" (1985) #8 UK, #4 AUS, #3 CAN, #9 US
* "Do You Want Crying" (1985) #96 UK, #29 CAN, #37 US
* "Que Te Quiero" (re-recording) (1984) #71 US
* "Is That It" (1986) #82 UK, #33 CAN, #70 US
* "Sun Street" (1986) #22 UK
* "That's the Way" (1989) #84 UK, #35 CAN, #16 US
* "Rock 'N' Roll Girl" (1989) #93 UK
* "Walking on Sunshine" (re-issue) (1996) #53 UK
* "Love Shine a Light" (1997) #3 UK
* "Walk On Water" (1997)


External links

* [http://www.katw.com/ Official web site]
* [http://www.katrinasweb.com Katrina's site]
* [http://www.katrina-leskanich.net Katrina Fan Site]

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