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KC & the Sunshine Band Biography

Home > Music > K > KC & the Sunshine Band > Biography

Birth Place: Miami, Florida, United States
Years Active: 1973–1984, 1993–present
Genres: Disco, Funk, Pop

KC and the Sunshine Band is an American musical group. Founded in 1973 in Miami, Florida, their style has included funk, R&B, and disco. They took their name from lead vocalist Harry Wayne Casey's last name “KC” and the “Sunshine Band” from KC's home state of Florida “The Sunshine State.”

The group was formed in 1973 by Harry Wayne Casey (KC), a record store employee and part-timer at TK Records in Miami. KC originally called the band KC & The Sunshine Junkanoo Band, as he used studio musicians from TK and a local Junkanoo band called the Miami Junkanoo Band. He was then introduced to Richard Finch, who was doing engineering work on records for TK. This was the beginning of the Casey-Finch musical collaboration. The initial members were just Casey and Finch, but they soon added guitarist Jerome Smith and drummer Robert Johnson, both TK studio musicians.

Their first few songs, “Blow Your Whistle” (September 1973) and “Sound Your Funky Horn” (February 1974), were released as singles, and did well enough on the Billbaord R&B chart that TK wanted a follow up single and album. However, while working on demos for KC & the Sunshine Band the George McCrae penned song, “Rock Your Baby” was recorded featuring Smith on guitar, and became a #1 hit in 51 countries in mid-1974. The band's “Queen of Clubs,” which featured unaccredited vocals by McCrae, was a hit in the U.K., peaking at #7. It appeared on the band’s debut album, 1974’s “Do It Good.”

With the release of their self-titled triple platinum second album “KC and the Sunshine Band” in 1975 came the group's first major U.S. hit with “Get Down Tonight.” It topped the R&B chart in April and the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in August. “That's the Way (I Like It)” also became a #1 hit in November 1975 and the group did well at the 1976 Grammy Awards.

The 1976 album “Part 3” yielded two #1 singles in “I'm Your Boogie Man” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty,” with “Keep It Comin' Love” peaking at #2. Their success lasted until the fifth album, 1978’s “Who Do Ya (Love)” with their last chart topping hit “Please Don't Go” hitting #1 for one week in January 1980, and becoming the first #1 hit of the 1980s.

With the explosion of new wave music and the declining popularity of disco, the group explored other styles and changed labels, joining Epic Records in 1980 after TK Records went bankrupt.

In 1981, the partnership between Finch and Casey came to an acrimonious end. Two years after the release of the previous album, 1979’s “Do You Wanna Party,” the group released two albums with new pop geared material, “The Painter” and “Space Cadet.” These albums generated little success, but in 1982, a hit track called “Give It Up” on the album “All in a Night's Work” (recorded before Casey and Finch’s split) brought a return to success in the U.K., and appeared two years later in the U.S. Top 40. The song was also featured on the band's next album, 1984's “KC Ten.”

Epic Records, however, refused to issue the song as a single due to its prior failure in the U.S. Because of this, a frustrated Casey formed Meca Records, releasing the single himself on this label in a final attempt to garner the song some success in America. It worked, but the album still failed to surpass expectations. This led to the group taking a hiatus around 1985 with Casey's retirement.

A revival in the interest of disco music in 1991 brought Casey out of retirement. He reformed the group with entirely new members and began touring once again. The new band has released a large number of compilation albums through Rhino Records, along with some newly recorded material. The album “Oh Yeah!” was released in 1993 after a ten-year gap between new albums.

On July 28, 2000, Jerome Smith (rhythm guitar) died accidentally while working as a bulldozer operator. In 2001, the band made a brief comeback into the music scene after an eight-year lull with the release of a new album titled “I'll Be There For You.” The album was praised by critics, but it failed to generate any impact on the charts or in sales. Another album of new material, “Yummy” was released in 2007.