KC was born Harry Wayne Casey on January 31st, 1951 in Hialeah, Florida. He earned the nickname KC at an early age. As a youngster, one of Casey's strongest
influences was the organ music he heard when his family attended church. His mother (whose record collection included R&B and listed releases by Nat "King" Cole, Jerry
Butler, and The Flamingos) and sisters sang on local commercials. Casey's parents nurtured his interest by having him take piano lessons. He would often hold backyard
concerts for his parents and friends. There would also be family sing alongs on birthdays and holidays. He would save his gift and allowance money to buy records. In his
teens, he joined a band named Five Doors Down, some of whose members would later be a part of The Sunshine Band. Casey's musical taste leaned toward Motown (Diana
Ross, Marvin Gaye, etc.) and horn-laden pop bands like Tower of Power and Blood, Sweat and Tears. When he was 17, he borrowed money (500 dollars) from friends to
make a vanity record (a recording made by a firm that advertises "we'll put your words to music!" then presses a few hundred copies), a single, "If You're Ever in Miami"
b/w "Emily, My Darling."
After graduating from high school, Casey attended Miami-Dade Junior College while working part time at a drugstore. Later, while working at a record store, Casey
became friends with employees of Tone Distributors and its subsidiary label, T.K. Records and was invited to check out the label's recording studio. Casey began hanging
around Tone/T.K. for hours every day after work. After a time, company president Henry Stone gave him the double-duty job of sweeping floors and packing records for
shipment in the warehouse. While packing records in 1972, Casey met bassist and part-time recording engineer Richard Finch. The two formed a creative partnership.
Stone let the young men work and experiment in T.K.'s recording studio when it wasn't in use and during after-hours. The two cut numerous demos on themselves, just
jamming. While at a wedding reception for T.K. songwriter/producer Clarence Reid in January 1973, Casey first heard Junkanoo, the highly festive, rhythmic-layered,
horn-punctuated musical genre that originated in the Bahamas. Later while accompanying T.K. artist Timmy Thomas ("Why Can't We Live Together") to a Washington, D.C.,
concert as his assistant/booking agent, Casey got an idea for a song after hearing the audience approvingly blowing whistles. After assembling some studio musicians, Casey
and Finch made their first professional recording as KC and The Sunshine Band. The single, "Blow Your Whistle," went to #-27 R&B in September 1973. KC and The
Sunshine Band's second single "Sound Your Funky Horn" did a little better than their first, going to #-21 R&B in February 1974.
While recording a demo on one of their original songs, Casey and Finch decided that the song was in a key that was too high for Casey to sing. Stone and T.K. A&R man Steve Alaimo suggested that they give the song to
singer George McCrae. Released in the early summer of 1974, "Rock Your Baby" rolled quickly up the charts holding the #-1 spot on both the R&B and Pop charts for two weeks during July 1974. The worldwide sales of
"Rock Your Baby" totaled over six million singles.
With an approving nod from T.K., Casey and Finch brought in lead guitarist Jerome Smith, drummer Robert Johnson, and conga player Femin Goytisolo. The band's debut LP, "Do It Good," garnered little attention in the
U.S. but took off in Europe due in part to "Queen Of Clubs," a Top Ten hit in both England and Germany. A band was hastily assembled for a European tour in 1975. The band expanded to include eight more musicians and
singers. Their fourth single, "Get Down Tonight," took off, hitting #-1 R&B in April 1975 and held the #-1 Pop spot for two weeks on Billboard's Pop charts in August 1975. Their second album, "KC And The Sunshine Band,"
released July 1975, made it to #-1 R&B, and #-4 Pop in the summer of 1975. To capitalize on the band's success, T.K. released instrumental singles by "The Sunshine Band." "Shotgun Shuffle," "Black Water Gold," and "Rock
Your Baby." They were listed on the all-instrumental album "The Sound of Sunshine."
"That's The Way I Like It," another single from their self-titled album, echoed the success of "Get Down...," and went to #-1 R&B in October 1975 and #-1 Pop in November 1975. "KC And The Sunshine Band" went
multi-platinum. (Dead or Alive's cover of "That's the Way I Like It" was their first U.K. hit going to #-22 in 1984.) In 1976, the band won five Grammy Awards and the reissued "Queen Of Clubs" became a U.S. hit in March.
"(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty" was the group's third #-1 hit topping the R&B charts for a month during July and going to #-1 Pop in September. Their third LP, "Part 3," made it to #-5 R&B in fall 1976. It
included the hit singles "I Like To Do It" (#-4 R&B) and "I'm Your Boogie Man" (#-1 Pop and #-3 R&B). One of the band's best loved hits, "Keep It Comin' Love," peaked at #-1 R&B, #-2 Pop. The hot production team
started their own Sunshine Sound label, distributed by T.K. One Sunshine Sound release, Jimmy "Bo" Horne's "Dance Across The Floor," went to #-8 R&B in March 1978. The 1977 11 million-selling "Saturday Night Fever"
soundtrack, which held the #-1 Pop spot for 24 weeks in 1978, included KC and The Sunshine Band's "Boogie Shoes."
Around the end of the 1970's, KC, Finch and T.K. began to have conflicts. Some say that this was reflected in the relatively poor chart showings of their releases: a remake of the Four Tops' "It's The Same Old Song"
peaked at #-30 R&B, #-35 Pop; "Do You Feel All Right" stalled at #-62 R&B, #-63 Pop; and "Who Do Ya Love" sank at #-88 R&B, #-68 Pop. "Who Do Ya Love" (the album) went to #-25 R&B, #-36 Pop in summer 1978. Of
course, it also could have meant that public tastes were changing. The title track of KC and The Sunshine Band's fifth album, "Do You Wanna Go Party" (June 1979) went to #-8 R&B in the summer of 1979. Seeing that disco
music was getting less and less radio airplay, KC and Finch included ballads on the LP. Originally the B-side of "I Betcha Didn't Know That," a cover of the 1975 Frederick Knight hit, which peaked at #-25 R&B, "Please
Don't Go" slowly made its way to #-1 Pop in January 1980. In February, KC earned another gold single with a duet cover of Barbara Mason's 1965 R&B hit "Yes I'm Ready" with Teri DeSario, which peaked at #-20 R&B and
#-2 Pop on (her label) Casablanca Records. Another lovely ballad, "All I Want," was included on "KC And The Sunshine Band's Greatest Hits" (March 1980).
In 1980 T.K. Records filed for bankruptcy. After selling over 75 million albums and millions of singles on T.K., KC and The Sunshine Band signed with Epic Records. One club hit was the 12" single of "You Said You'd Give
Me Some More," however none of the ensuing albums were hits and the band broke up. Then on January 15th, 1982, Casey was just seven blocks from his house when he was involved in a head-on auto crash which left
him wheelchair bound for almost a year.
Ironically, KC didn't have another hit until he partnered with a Southern businessman to start his own independent label, MECA (Music Enterprise Corporation of America). A single, "Give It Up," from his Epic LP "All In
A Night's Work" was issued by Epic's Ireland unit and became a hit; then it was issued by British Epic and went to #-1 in the U.K. Epic America refused to release the single stateside. Buying the rights from Epic, Casey
re-released "Give It Up" on his MECA label and it became a Top 20 Pop hit in the U.S., peaking at #-18 in 1983. The T.K. Records catalog was sold to Rhino Records in the 1990's, who has since issued numerous compilations,
most with bonus tracks.
A number of major-selling hip-hop acts have used samples from T.K. releases as the basis for their recordings. During the 1990's, as disco music and anything from the 1970's once again became popular, Casey reformed
The Sunshine Band and began touring before enthusiastic audiences. In the new millennium some of KC and The Sunshine Band's hits were featured in the NBC-TV miniseries "The 70's." which aired in May 2000. And with
Rhino Records re-releasing his catalogue his popularity is once again on the up.
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with K.C. at the 1991 "Winter Music Conference" in Miami. He was gracious, funny and quite intelligent. He also performed for the conference attendees, it was a pleasure to
see and hear this legend and to know that he could still Shake His Booty! While touring the country in 2007 (as he does yearly) I was able to catch him perform along with Gloria Gaynor, Kathy Sledge, and The Trammps
here at Chicago's Northerly Island Music Venue. I was on my feet during the entire concert and the crowd went wild for him. I again caught his show in 2008 at The Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee. And once again he was
the hit of the concert. Look for new material in the very near future and catch him in a venue near you.