Balloon Festival 2016: Craig Allen’s sneak preview to the KC & The Sunshine Band show
He has been called the "Founder Of The Dance Revolution."
He is Harry Wayne Casey, the founder of KC & The Sunshine Band!
Casey was born in Hialeah, Florida in 1951...and says that he has never moved more than 10 miles away from his birthplace...also birthplace to his massively popular "Sunshine Sound!"
Casey grew up in a multi-ethnic area, which exposed him to many cultures and sounds...from pop to reggae to Latin music. He has always had a love for music...and early on, Harry Wayne Casey decided that he wanted to combine the music styles that he liked best!
Its 1973...and Casey is doing anything he can to make his dream of making music come true! And that means a rather...unconventional approach.
He starts pursuing the dream by working at a local record store!
Casey is also opening boxes at Tone Record Distributors...
...and hanging out at a local recording studio...HOPING that someone will give him the chance to fulfill his dream...to record a record!
The dream was answered by Henry Stone, who owned both Tone Distributors and TK Records! Among other artists, Stone had recorded Ray Charles and James Brown at TK Studios...and he took a liking to the energetic and optimistic Harry Casey!
Casey would team up with bassist Richard Finch...and the rest is HISTORY!
Stone's leap of faith would pay off...quickly...and to an extent that no one could foresee!
The new band's first record (single) "Blow Your Whistle" didn't appear on the Top-40 charts...but it went to #15 on the R&B Chart!
Further, this first single was a big hit in England with "Northern Soul" devotees!
The 1975 album pictured above would put KC & The Sunshine Band on the world stage...and forever change pop/dance music!
It went TRIPLE Platinum (platinum certifying one million in sales)!
"Get Down Tonight" would be the first single...complete with a Memphis-style horn section, Casey's distinctive vocals, and lots of female backup vocals!
It also features a revolutionary recording "trick" which makes the song's intro sound so distinctive!
"Get Down Tonight" features a recorded guitar solo, played back at double speed over a normal-speed guitar in the background! Richard Finch came up with the idea after watching an engineer slow down a tape machine...he decided to speed up playback as a way of adding "excitement" to the music!
Now that you know...Listen again (you know that you want to)...it WORKS!
Back to the timeline:
KC & The Sunshine Band embarks on a European tour...as the song climbs the Hot 100 pop charts...all the way to #1 in late summer of 1975!
Many a music critic (and fans, of course) would comment at the time, that "Get Down Tonight" signaled a change in music tastes...from doom and gloom, to happy, rhythmic sounds that people could dance to.
Can you say: DISCO?
"That's The Way (I Like It)"...
...would rule the pop charts for 2 weeks in the fall of 1975!
You might notice (below) that another one of "Jersey's Favorite Hits,"
"Boogie Shoes" is on this 'platinum' album...more on that to come!
Harry Wayne Casey would take home the 1975 "American Music Award" for Best R&B Artist!
KC & The Sunshine Band is...EVERYWHERE!
As the Bicentennial Year (1976) dawns...
...the NEXT KC & The Sunshine Band album, "Part 3" hit record store shelves!
And the #1 HITS would just keep coming!
(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" Hit #1 in the Summer of '76!
Next on the charts, is one of the band's overlooked gems, in my opinion!
When I was working at the world's first "All-70's" radio station in the mid 1990's, I got to regularly play not only the BIG hits...but I would delve deeper into the KC & The Sunshine Band music catalog...
And I have long felt that "I Like To Do It" should have done better on the charts, and gotten more radio airplay...
Sadly, it barely cracked the Top-40, stopping at #37 in 1977.
Back to the top of the charts...
Casey Kasem would count 'em down to #1, and "I'm Your Boogie Man" in early 1977...
And, the next single almost made it...
"Keep It Comin' Love" would hold a monopoly on the #2 spot for 3 weeks in the summer of 1977!
At this point, Disco is mainstream...its cultural status solidified by the iconic "Saturday Night Fever!"
And KC & The Sunshine Band would be a part of the movie soundtrack, with inclusion of "Boogie Shoes."
This 1975 song...was originally the B-side of "Shake Your Booty."
On its own, as a single, "Boogie Shoes" would climb the charts to #35 in 1978. Thank you John Travolta and company!
KC would take home Grammy Awards for "Record Of The Year," as well as "Producer Of The Year" in 1978, for his work on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack!
KC & The Sunshine Band's next big hit would top the charts in the early days of "The Big Decade!"
As a matter of record, "Please Don't Go" would hold down the #1 position on the charts in the first week of 1980...January 5, 1980.
At the same time...Harry Wayne Casey's first "solo" hit was climbing up the charts!
Sung with high school friend, Teri DeSario, "Yes, I'm Ready" stopped at #2 in early 1980!
"KC" would have one more solo hit...and while it would climb the charts all the way to #18 in early 1984, it is virtually forgotten, today.
In my opinion, that's a shame!
I like "Give It Up" so much...
...that I bought the "extended vinyl" (disco) version in 1984.
Over the years...
...there have been several "Best Of" compilations!
In 2001, KC was awarded the NARAS ("National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences") "Governor's Award," the highest honor given by the Academy!
In 2002, KC got a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame!
KC's music is now being sampled by rap artists...and new generations are being being introduced to the band's "Sunshine Sound!"
In researching for this article...and surfing random online comments...I came across this fan comment that sums up not only "Yes, I'm Ready," but all of KC's music:
"This song brings back memories of my Chevelle, and fogged up windows by Miami Beach. Great days! Awesome nights! Why must we grow up?"
Everyone who grew up in this time, listening to top-40 radio, and dancing in the clubs, can associate (multiple) KC & The Sunshine Band songs to...the good times in their lives!
KC has long said...and I am paraphrasing here...that there is enough serious music...that he just wants to make music that is fun, music that people can dance to!
And, as the official KC & The Sunshine Band site says: "Shaking Bootys Since 1973!"
Selling over 100 million records...means that there's been a lot of shaking going on!
Enjoy more stories, photos, and videos on KC's official site by clicking here!
I can't wait for the show tonight!
It is an honor and a THRILL to be able to bring KC & The Sunshine Band onstage tonight at the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning!
See you on-air...as I broadcast LIVE from 10am-3pm on New Jersey 101.5!
See you...on stage...tonight!