Pick of the Week
“Walking on Sunshine”, Katrina and the Waves (1983/85)
One of the feel-good songs of all time, Katrina and the Waves were one of the forerunners of the new wave movement, but as a band, the rain came out and washed them away.
Katrina Leskanich and her boy friend at the time, Vince de la Cruz (seriously, real name? Perfect for a novel, or hey, a band!), were air force brats that cut their teeth playing ‘60s R&B, Motown and other such stuff on the military base circuit in the U.S. Their band they called “Mama’s Cookin’” toured England in 1979. There was a great love for this type of music in England still, although punk was seriously under way.
They met up with former ‘Soft Boy1’, Alex Cooper when they were in England and he convinced former band-mate Kimberly Rew to join then. The new formation was called “The Waves”.
In 1982 the Waves debut single entitled “Nightmare” was released with the B-side being the Rew-penned “Hey, War Pig!” - I guess they were influence by the punk movement. Huh. Also that year the EP “Shock Horror” was released. Little success came of this effort.
In 1983 the band put their pence together and shopped around for someone to release their album of original material from what now would be called “Katrina and the Waves”. Previously the Soft Boys had been released on the Canadian indie label ‘Attic’, so when no one else would have them, they went back there. (I have a number of the 45’s put out under the ‘Attic’ label. The wildly successful indie label would also have a hand in the success of many artists including Triumph, Anvil, The Downchild Blues Band, B.B. Gabor, Teenage Head, Jennifer Warnes, “Weird Al” Yankovich, and Creed.)
Despite the band being based in the U.K., “Walking on Sunshine” was originally only released in Canada. Critical praise and radio play resulted in a tour by an experienced band. The fan base grew quickly.
It was a weird twist of fate that would help K&W: The Bangles who were then putting out their album“All Over the Place”, decided to cover Kim Rew’s song “Going Down to Liverpool”. Word got out who wrote the song and soon Capital were interested in Katrina and the Waves, and they had a new record deal.
Reworked with horns and rereleased “Walking on Sunshine” went to the top of the charts in the U.K., Australia, and the elusive U.S. market.
In 1997 they won the Eurovision song contest with the Abbaesque “Love Shine a Light”. Pretty good song, but most people know them as one-hit-wonders for “Walking On Sunshine”.
When a song was first written, usually what happened was that the song-writer got the lion’s share of the royalties from airplay and publishing rights. In the case of “Walking on Sunshine” the band split the royalties equally. In the 1990’s the song is said to have paid in excess of $1 million per year on royalties and advertising rights. Disney also got a hold of it, It has also been used in many movies including but not limited to “The Secret Of My Success”, “Daddy Day Care” and “Look Who’s Talking” as well as TV shows, “The Gilmore Girls”, “Sports Night”, “Drew Carey” and is now being used as part of the Mathew Perry Show “Mr. Sunshine”. That can’t be a bad thing.
I would be walking on sunshine with a super-sweet ear-to-ear grin on my face too, and then some, if I was Katrina!
1) The Soft Boys were an influencial but not particularily commercially successful group in England in the late ‘70s producing two albums, “A Can of Bees”, and “Underwater Moonlight”.