A soundtrack of the 70s would hardly be complete without the inclusion of KC and the Sunshine Band. Emerging during the infamous disco era, they were a staple of radio playlists, thanks to a steady stream of energetic hits that never failed to fill the dance floor. Decades later, loyal fans still flock to see KC and the gang perform their unique brand of pop music.
Before K.C. was known by those famous initials, he was Harry Wayne Casey, a Florida youth who worked at part-time at a recording studio. Casey and friend Rick Finch formed a group but their first few singles were far from notable. They fared better as songwriters for George McRae, furnishing him with the R&B hit, “Rock Your Baby.”
Casey and Finch assembled more musicians and developed a disco style that heavily employed percussion beats and horns. K.C. and the Sunshine Band broke through with their hit “Get Down Tonight,” which went to #1 in 1975. The song was positively infectious and took over every discotheque in the U.S. and Europe. “That’s the Way I Like It” and its sultry uh-huh uh-huh chant followed, also reaching the top of the charts. The band hit the road and attracted thousands of fans on their tour. Audiences couldn’t get enough of their deft fusion of R&B, rock, disco and Caribbean sounds.
Continued recording brought the band another smash hit with “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.” Another disco anthem, another #1; it was almost impossible not to shake one’s booty when the song came on. In the late 70s disco was flourishing, helped by the mega hit movie Saturday Night Fever. K.C. and the Sunshine Band contributed one of their earlier songs to the film’s soundtrack, “Boogie Shoes.” Other singles from that year include “I’m Your Boogie Man,” the band’s fourth #1 hit and “Keep It Comin’ Love,” a #2 success.
K.C. and the Sunshine Band went another direction in 1980, disco fever having been cured the year before. Their sound became more pop and they had a #1 hit with “Please Don’t Go,” a tender ballad. K.C. did some solo work as well, teaming up with Teri DeSario to release “Yes, I’m Ready,” a duet that reached the #2 spot. In 1981, the Sunshine band called it quits and K.C. continued on alone. He had a notable hit with 1984’s “Give It Up,” a dance hit very reminiscent of his former band’s oeuvre.
With disco re-infecting the world in the early 90s, many K.C. songs came back into the spotlight. People dug out their old T-shirts sporting K.C. and the Sunshine Band iron-on transfers and proudly wore them in public again. K.C. hired all new members for the re-formed Sunshine Band and started touring heavily. And, although the release of a new album in 2001 failed to attract much attention, KC and the Sunshine Band are still out there touring on occasion, and making people smile with their undeniable grooves.
If you boogied to the music of KC and the Sunshine Band in your youth (and perhaps you still do), we welcome all of your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this iconic 70s group.