KC and the Sunshine Band

  • Disco/R&B group founded in 1973 from Hialeah Florida. The band was founded by Harry Casey (K.C. – keyboards, vocals, songwriting) and Richard Finch (bass guitar, songwriting).
  • Casey worked at a record store in Florida and did part time work at a record label. He was interested in recording his own music, and he used session musicians at the record company and a local Junkanoo band (musicians used for street parades, originating in the Bahamas) to form his band, called KC & The Sunshine Junkanoo band. He was introduced to Finch, who was an engineer at the record label and also played bass guitar, and they began to collaborate on writing songs. Finch was a skilled engineer, and he had an ear for dance songs that evolved into a whole new sound – disco music. They would write and record at the studio, using Jerome Smith on guitar and Robert Johnson on drums.
  • The band released singles in late 1973 and early 1974 – Blow Your Whistle and Sound Your Funky Horn. They were moderately successful on the R&B chart. This led to the debut album for KC & The Sunshine Band – Do It Good, released in April 1974. Two more songs hit the R&B chart, but overall the album did not sell. Meanwhile, Casey and Finch wrote Rock Your Baby for George McRae, which went to #1 in 51 countries in 1974.
  • The band’s success changed in 1975 with the release of their second album, the self titled KC and the Sunshine Band. The lead single was Get Down Tonight – it quickly hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, their first of 5 songs to top the chart. This soon was followed by That’s The Way (I Like It). These songs have become disco immortality.
  • Immediately, they were in demand to tour, which petrified Casey, who had never played keyboards and sang at the same time on stage. Their tours became huge dance parties, and as the band became more successful, the shows became bigger, with up to 11 members on stage.
  • Their next album was an instrumental only disco record, and it wasn’t very popular. However, in 1976 they released Part 3, and they were back on top. The album included #1 songs (Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty and I’m Your Boogie Man, as well as Keep It Comin’ Love, which peaked at #2 on the Hot 100.
  • KC and the Sunshine Band contributed the song Boogie Shoes to the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever in 1977. The album went on the win the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1978 (KC can thank the Bee Gees for that).
  • By the late 70s, disco was dying a quick death. Albums released in 1978 and 1979 were less successful, though they managed to score their final #1 hit in 1979 with Please Don’t Go, which was less disco and more R&B ballad than their earlier work. Four more albums released from 1981 to 1984 showed the band evolving to different pop sounds, away from disco. The music was not very popular, except 1983’s Give It Up, which reached #1 in the UK and #18 in the U.S.
  • In 1985, Casey retired and the band was no more. With a revival in interest for disco in the 90s, he reformed the band in 1991 with new musicians (and without Finch) and started touring. Albums were released in 1993, 2001 and 2007, and 4 singles released from 2015 to 2017 charted on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. They are still performing their disco hits today, playing the oldies circuit at state fairs, casinos, and festivals.
  • You might dispute whether there can be such a thing as The Greatest Disco band ever, but if you allow yourself to have the discussion, most would put KC and the Sunshine Band in the top 5. You know – even the Rolling Stones put out disco songs (Miss You, Emotional Rescue). Just sayin’. Here is a performance of I’m Your Boogie Man. You gotta admit – it’s catchy, and I love the horns!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *