His father was an officer in the Royal Navy, who was stationed at various navy bases around the world. At age 15 they permanently moved back to Britain. At age 20 he had become a punk and moved to Belgium, where he took on various jobs, including being a DJ in a club and on a local radio station. This led to a job as a music presenter on Belgian national TV channel RTBF in 1982, where he presented the show Rox Box (in French) which featured alternative music videos and live studio performances.
His success led to additional music video shows on Sky Channel and Music Box. When MTV Europe launched in 1987 he became a Video Jockey there. Arguably his most popular programme was Cokes and Vanthilt, with co-presenter Marcel Vanthilt.
Between 1992 and 1995, Cokes hosted MTV Europe's cult live television series MTV's Most Wanted, an award-winning daily show which soon became the most popular one on MTV Europe and gave a break to presenters such as Davina McCall. After it ended in 1995, Cokes got a weekly 90-minute show X-Ray which was not as successful. He left MTV Europe in 1996.
In 1994, Cokes released a single titled "Simply Sexy!" under the name Ray Cokes & the Sex Gods featuring Al Agami, the song's title referring to one of the catchphrases frequently used in Most Wanted.
Cokes also presented Channel Four's hit 1990s TV show Wanted.
Cokes' subsequent work includes presenting En Direct de from 2005 to 2009, broadcast on the French television station France 4.
Cokes also worked as the compère for the White Concert, a live concert recorded in Horsens, Denmark, in November 2008 due to the 40-year jubilee of the Beatles' eponymous White Album.
In late 2008 he moved to Berlin and in 2009 to Antwerp, Belgium, declaring that he would like to settle there permanently.
During the summer of 2009, Cokes and Jean Blaute co-hosted Tournée Générale, a 10-part exploration of Belgian beer around the world from Sputnik media, on Flemish channel Canvas. A second 10-part series was aired in 2011 and a third in 2013 on the Belgian channel Eén.
In September 2011, Cokes hosted the Sunday afternoon show Cokes calling on Classic 21, one of the radio stations of the Belgian RTBF.
From 2012 to 2014, he was one of the three judges in the first Belgium's Got Talent.
In February 2014, he hosted the Swedish Grammy awards.
In October 2014, he released his autobiography, My Most Wanted Life - On-Screen, Off-Screen and In-Between, available in German and English editions.