KC & The Sunshine Band - Biography



From the mid-to-late '70s, KC & the Sunshine Band racked up some of the era's biggest, hedonistic disco-funk hits. Although many disparaged the lack of social value of songs like "Shake Shake Shake (Shake Your Booty)," the fact that the boys sold 75 million records suggests that that wasn't a concern for many record buyers.

 

Although KC & the Sunshine Band was at least nominally a band, it was more truthfully a loose conglomeration of many musicians lead by primary songwriters Richard Finch and Harry Wayne Casey, who met whilst packing records for Miami's T.K. Records in 1972. Finch was an Indiana native whose family moved to Hialeah, Florida when he was a baby. He got his first bass in his early teens and learned to play country music before joining a band, Ball & Chain. After becoming interested in recording techniques, he found employment at T.K. Casey, or KC, was born in Opa-Locka, Florida and became interested in keyboards from listening to church organ. His mother and sisters also sang in local commercials and encouraged him to take piano lessons. By the time he joined Five Doors Down, his tastes had gravitated toward soul. He recorded his first solo single, "If You're Ever in Miami" b/w "Emily, My Darling" when he was 17. After graduation, he got hired at T.K. Records working in the warehouse. KC and Finch began experimenting in the studio after hours.

 

After hearing junkanoo, the festive, horn-laden music of the Bahamas, KC and Finch assembled lead guitarist Jerome Smith, drummer Robert Johnson, and conga player Femin Goytisolo and formed KC & the Sunshine Band. Their debut single, "Blow Your Whistle," did only modestly well in the R&B scene. Their song, "Rock Your Baby," was written in too high of a register for Casey and it was given to George McCrae who scored a hit with it. Their debut full-length, Do It Good (1974-T.K. Records) was a major hit in the UK and a subsequent single, "Queen of Clubs," did quite well there and in Germany. The following year they released the instrumental The Sound of Sunshine (1975-T.K. Records) credited solely to The Sunshine Band. For a European tour in 1975, they added eight more performers to their ranks. In July, they released KC and the Sunshine Band (1975-T.K. Records) which, containing such monster jams as "That's the Way (I Like It)" and "Get Down Tonight" brought them their first massive successes in their homeland.

 

1976's Part 3 (1976-T.K. Records) produced more monster singles, "Shake Shake Shake (Shake Your Booty)," "I'm Your Boogieman" "I Like to Do It" and "Keep It Comin' Love." "Boogie Shoes" appeared on the 11-million-selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Who Do You Love? (1978-T.K. Records) almost inevitably struggled to maintain commercial momentum of their previous successes. The Finch/Casey production team started their own Sunshine Sound label, distributed by TK, but at the same time conflicts between to arise. One Sunshine Sound release, "Dance Across the Floor," was a hit for Jimmy "Bo" Horne's in March 1978 but it wasn't the June release of Do You Wanna Go Party (1979-T.K. Records) that KC & the Sunshine Band again returned to the top, largely on account of tremendous ballad, "Please Don't Go," which slowly climbed the charts, topping them the following January.

 

Despite having their luster somewhat restored, schisms within the Sunshine Band continued to widen. In 1980, KC recorded a duet with Margaret Reynolds, "Take Me to the Moon."  1981's Space Cadet (1981-T.K. Records) contained the provocative subtitle, Solo Flight and was simply credited to KC, despite the continued presence of Finch. The same year, T.K. Records filed for bankruptcy, ending Sunshine Sound with it. KC & the Sunshine Band next signed with Epic Records. They released The Painter (1981-Epic) which was a commercial dud. On January 15, 1982, Casey was involved in a head-on auto crash which left him wheelchair bound for almost a year. By the time All in a Night's Work (1982-Epic) was released, Finch was no longer in the band, although he the album was recorded shortly before his departure. The single, "Give It Up," went to number one in the UK but wasn't released in the US.

 

KC next co-founded an independent label, MECA (Music Enterprise Corporation of America) and bought out his remaining contract. Upon releasing the single in the US, it peaked at eighteen in 1983. KC followed with KC Ten (1984-MECA), which was less successful and he retired in 1985. A '70s revival in the early '90s convinced KC to return with a line-up of The Sunshine Band in which Finch was conspicuously absent. The new line-up released Oh Yeah! (1993-ZYX) which, '70s revival or no, failed to chart. In 1999, the band were the subject of an episode of VH1's Behind the Music. On July 28, 2000, Jerome Smith died whilst operating a bulldozer operator. As KC & The Sunshine Band, Casey released I'll Be There for You (2001-Sunshine Sound) and Get Down Live! (2003-Sunshine Sound) (drawn from the '93 and '94 tours). Finch re-entered the music industry in 2006, producing artists at his Production Kitchen Studios back in Ohio. The most recent album credited to KC & the Sunshine Band is 2007's Yummy (2007-Sunshine Sound).

 

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