Thomas August Darnell Browder (aka August Darnell) was born in Montreal on August 12, 1950, the son of a French Canadian mother and a Dominican father, but was raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx. In 1965, he formed the In-Laws with his half-brother, Stony Browder, Jr. He earned a master's degree in English and became an English teacher, but in 1974 again joined his half-brother as bass guitarist, singer, and lyricist in Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, a group that mixed disco with big band and Latin styles. In 1976, Dr. Buzzard achieved a gold-selling album with its self-titled debut release, which featured the Top 40 hit "Whispering/Cherchez la Femme/Se Si Bon," but its subsequent recordings were less successful. Darnell began to write and produce for other acts, co-composing Machine's 1979 chart entry "There But for the Grace of God Go I" and working with James Chance among others. In 1980, he became a staff producer at Ze Records and created the persona of Kid Creole (the name adapted from the Elvis Presley film King Creole) with a backup group, the Coconuts, consisting of three female singers led by his wife Adriana "Addy" Kaegi, and a band containing vibraphone player "Sugar-Coated" Andy Hernandez (aka Coati Mundi), also from Dr. Buzzard. Kid Creole was a deliberately comic figure, a Latinized Cab Calloway type in a zoot suit and broad-brimmed hat who sang songs like "Mister Softee" that found him decrying his impotence while being berated by the Coconuts. Off the Coast of Me, the first Kid Creole & the Coconuts album, was released in August 1980 by Island Records subsidiary Antilles through a distribution deal with Ze. It earned good reviews for its clever lyrics and mixture of musical styles, but did not sell.