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Meet K.C. & The Sunshine Band [PHOTOS] [VIDEOS]

Original vinyl I found in a cut-out rack in the late 1970s. (Craig Allen photo)

Back in the day, Harry “KC” Casey stated that popular music was too serious…that he just wanted to make music that was FUN! I would say: Mission accomplished!

The band, which marries funk, R&B, and disco, was formed in 1973 by Harry Wayne Casey, (born January 31, 1951), a record store employee and part-timer at TK Records in Miami.

Originally called “KC & The Junkaroo Sunshine Band, Casey used studio musicians from TK Records and a local band “The Miami Junkaroo Band.”

Casey (KC) was then introduced to TK engineer Richard Finch, and a collaboration was formed. TK studio musicians Jerome Smith (guitar) and Robert Johnson (drums) joined the band.

“Blow Your Whistle” (1973) and “Sound Your Funky Horn” (1974) were released as singles, and did well on the R&B (Urban) charts. “Queen Of Clubs”–with uncredited vocals by George McCrae (“Rock Your Baby”)–was a #7 hit in England, and the band toured there in 1975.

With the release of the self-titled album “KC & The Sunshine Band,” “Get Down Tonight” became the band’s first hit…zooming to #1 on the US charts in the summer of 1975!

“That’s The Way (I Like It)” went to #1 in the fall of 1975. ”

(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” hit the top spot in 1976. “I’m Your Boogie Man” also went to #1 in 1977! “Keep It Coming Love” stalled at #2 on the “Hot 100 Charts” for 3 weeks in the Fall of 1977.

“Boogie Shoes,” another one of “Jersey’s Favorite Hits” was originally the B-side of the “Shake Your Booty” single! It got a big boost when it was included on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack! It was later included in the movies “Mallrats” and “Boogie Nights,” among others.

Mid-level charting songs followed for the next 2 years.

KC & The Sunshine Band’s last chart-topping hit was released in the last days of December 1979. “Please Don’t Go” would become the first #1 hit of 1980!

With interest in “new wave” music on the rise, coupled with the so-called disco backlash, the band began to explore different sounds. It also changed labels, with the bankruptcy of TK Records in 1980.

In 1981, the Casey-Finch partnership broke up.  The band released 2 new albums: “The Painter” and “Space Cadet.” Neither album caught on with the record-buying public.

In 1982, the song “Give It Up,” which was recorded prior to the KC-Finch split, became a hit in England.  Two years later it was included on the 1984 (U.S.) album “KC Ten.”

"Give It Up" Disco Single, 1984. (Craig Allen photo)

Epic Records did not want to release “Give It Up” as a single, so a frustrated Casey formed his own “Meca Records” label. He released the song as a single, and it went to #18 on the charts. The album didn’t fare as well, and Casey retired in 1985.

Disco music experienced a revival in the early 1990s, and KC came out of retirement, reforming the band with (mostly) new member in 1991. KC & The Sunshine Band started touring at this time, which continues today!

KC cd
One of many "KC" compilation CDs. (Craig Allen photo)

Numerous compilation albums have been released over the years, through Rhino Records. The “Oh Yeah!” album (new songs) was released in 1993. “I’ll Be There For You” came out in 2001. Critics loved the album, the general public ignored it.

Through the years, the band’s songs have had a large impact on dance video games, have been “sampled” by other artists in new recordings, and have been included in numerous movie soundtracks. The band’s official site (click here) states that they have sold over 100 million records to date!

Enjoy the “Endless Summer” weekend on New Jersey 101.5…crank up all the “party songs,” particularly the many hits by “KC & The Sunshine Band!”

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