Peter Kingsbery’s “New American” band Cock Robin enjoyed their biggest success in Europe

By on September 17, 2018

Night Flight’s “Take Off to New American Music” — which originally aired on May 7, 1986, and you’ll now find streaming on streaming in our “Take Off” category over on Night Flight Plus — features videos by “new American” bands who were all having some level of success in their home country.

One of the bands we featured — the country and classical-influenced Cock Robin — ironically actually ended up being much more successful as a charting act outside the U.S.

COCKROBIN11

“What’s happening right now in music is good,” the band’s co-lead vocalist Peter Kingsbery says in our Night Flight interview, taped around the same time of the band’s 1985 debut album, “because of the fact that I think a lot of American groups are really gettin,’… well, they want to be original.”

“The English invasion has been damn good for us, it’s been a nice kick in the butt,” Kingsbery continues, “but, you know, it’s like, it’s time to get different, and I think everybody is, I know in Los Angeles there’s a definite movement, and, you know, it’s nice to be a part of it.”

Kingsbery likely had no idea at the time he was saying these words that he would end up having his biggest success as a songwriter and musician not in America, but over in Europe.

COCKROBIN9

Peter Kingsbery (b. December 2, 1952, in Phoenix, Arizona) grew up in Austin, Texas, before moving to Nashville, Tennessee, as a working musician.

In the late ’70s, Kingsbery moved to Los Angeles, kicking off a singer-songwriter career, before eventually relocated to San Francisco in 1982.

There, he formed Cock Robin with vocalist/keyboardist Anna LaCazio, guitarist Clive Wright and drummer Louis Molino III.

Kingsbery and LaCazio shared the lead vocal duties (he also played keyboards and bass).

COCKROBIN1

Cock Robin — took their name from a bookmark depicting a 17th century woodcut entitled “The Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren” — were typical of a lot of ’80s bands, blending big rock guitars and hooky pop riffs with a fashionably new wave look.

Ultimately, they scored a record deal with Columbia Records, who released their self-titled debut album — produced by legendary rock guitarist Steve Hillage — in 1985.

COCKROBIN10

“When Your Heart is Weak” was the first and only single of the band’s to chart in the U.S., peaking at #31 in mid-August of 1985 after five weeks.

It charted higher overseas, landing in the Top Ten in France and Germany, establishing Cock Robin as a formidable American act in those countries as well as Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. It also became a radio favorite in South Africa in early ’86.

The video — lensed in a desert identified online as being in Arizona although it looks like Joshua Tree to us — was directed by British filmmaker Chris Gabrin, although David Hogan is the name credited on Night Flight’s chryon for some reason.

COCKROBIN16

Read more about Cock Robin below.

IDevices-For-NF-web

Hey! Do you have a Night Flight Plus subscription?

We’re offering up original uncut air masters of Night Flight programming from the video vaults of the 1980s TV show, as well as provocative new selections from the world of music, documentaries, animation, cult films and more. Sign up today!



COCKROBIN6

Cock Robin’s second single, “The Promise You Made,” failed to chart in the U.S., but again they did much better overseas, peaking at #1 in Belgium, and landing in the Top Ten in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Their next single, “Thought You Were On My Side,” also landed in Belgium’s Top Five (#4).

COCKROBIN5

Their lack of success in the U.S. may have led to the band slimming down to just the duo of Kingsbery and LaCazio prior to the release of 1987’s After Here Through Midland.

The Don Gehman-produced effort, however, once again struggled to find its American audience, peaking at #166 on Billboard ‘s album charts.

COCKROBIN14

Once again, the album did quite well in Europe, reaching the Top Ten in Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, and going platinum in France.

All three of its singles — “Just Around the Corner,” “The Biggest Fool of All” and “El Norte” — landed in France’s Top Twenty.

COCKROBIN4

Kingsbery and LaCazio gave it one last try, releasing a third Cock Robin album, First Love/Last Rites, in 1989.

American critics praised its production by Roxy Music-producer Rhett Davies, but the same thing happened with this album that had happened with the previous two.

Kingsbery and LaCazio blamed their label’s promotion department but finally decided to go their separate ways following a European tour in the early ’90s.

COCKROBIN2

During the rest of the decade, Kingsbery released a series of solo project — 1991’s A Different Man,1995’s Once In A Million, and 1997’s Pretty Ballerina — which were all recorded in English.

In 2002, he released Mon Inconnue, which save for one song was recorded entirely in French, which by now he spoke fluently.

He also moved to France, and as far as we know continues to live there still.

COCKROBIN13

These classically-oriented albums featured Kingsbery on piano, organ and accordion, with arrangements that also included wind instruments.

Kingsbery toured France, playing piano and singing in small clubs across the country, and in 1992 he played to a packed Théâtre Grévin.

He enjoyed even more success with yet another hit single, “Only the Very Best,” recorded by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon for the concept musical album Tycoon (the English-language version of the French cult musical Starmania, which featured English lyrics by lauded lyricist Tim Rice). It landed on the charts in 1992.

COCKROBIN12

Anna LaCazio recorded her own solo album, Eat Life, around that same time, but it failed to find her a devoted American audience.

Watch Night Flight’s “Take Off to New American Music” — which also features music videos by ‘Til Tuesday, Run-D.M.C., R.E.M., Lone Justice, Los Lobos, the Long Ryders and other “New American” artists — on Night Flight Plus!

COCKROBIN3

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.