New wave ironist Tonio K. was born Steve Krikorian on July 4, 1950 and was raised in Palm Desert, CA. While in high school he formed his first band, the Raik's Progress. In 1973, he appeared on his first album, Remnants, as a member of the former Buddy Holly backing band the Crickets. After going solo, he assumed the stage name Tonio K., apparently in honor of the Thomas Mann novella Tonio Kröger. His debut LP, Life in the Foodchain, was a critical smash upon its 1978 release, winning acclaim for its scathing wit and smartly crafted songs; Amerika followed two years later, and although it fared poorly commercially it helped establish the singer as a major favorite on the L.A. club scene.