KC and the Sunshine Band are perhaps one of the best known bands of the disco era, charming fans the world over with their fun, upbeat and cheerful sound and their catchy hooks and brilliant lyrical stylings.
The band remains popular to this day, despite starting out more than 40 years ago and while changes to the line-up of the band and the changing tastes of the day mean that the band’s sound has changed a lot, they’re still well loved by those who remember them first time around and a whole new generation of fans.
The disco era in the ‘70s was one fraught with racial tensions and disco became something of a retreat for those outside of the mainstream – the genre was more inclusive than many at the time, welcoming the LGBT community, women and people of all colors and creeds with open arms.
It’s no wonder, then, that we look back on this time with such fondness, or that the biggest disco tracks of the ‘70s are still floor-fillers in the 21st Century. Keep reading to find out more about one of the bands at the forefront of the disco movement – KC and the Sunshine Band.
Bringing the band together
In 1973, Harry Wayne Casey, an employee of the now defunct Florida based TK Records decided to form a band. Originally called KC and the Sunshine Junkanoo Band, it comprised of Casey, the Miami Junkanoo Band and some studio musicians from the label he was working at.
The Junkanoo band sprun from a cultural tradition called the Junkanoo parade which occurs in the Bahamas and cities across the USA with Caribbean-American populations. It takes place on Boxing Day each year and the style of music is also performed at other celebrations throughout the year. This influence on KC and the Sunshine Band could be part of what sets its musical style apart from other disco bands.
Before long, Casey was introduced to Richard Finch, who was a skilled sound engineer working at TK records. Within weeks, a songwriting partnership had been formed and the pair wrote for other artists before eventually assembling KC and the Sunshine Band as it would come to be recognized.
The first couple of singles which were released by KC and the Sunshine band were Blow Your Whistle and Sound Your Funky Horn, and both performed well enough for the band’s label to record another single and album.
While they were in the process of recording these, a song titled Rock Your Baby which was written by Casey and Finch but recorded by George McCrae became a number one hit in 51 countries, and Queen of Clubs, a track recorded by KC and the Sunshine Band with vocals from McCrae became a hit in the UK, prompting a tour of the British isles in 1975.
KC and the Sunshine Band: the album
After such an auspicious start, the self-titled album KC and the Sunshine Band was a hotly anticipated release in 1975 and birthed the first big hit that the group had in North America – Get Down Tonight – which went to number one on the US Billboard Charts.
After that, the band’s star was on the rise; more hits came along with That’s The Way (I Like It), successes at the Grammy awards boosted the act’s profile further and the album Part 3 spawned yet more success. From this, I’m Your Boogie Man; (Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty and Keep It Comin’ Love were chart successes.
Sadly, with the demise of disco as a genre the successes of KC and the Sunshine band began to wane, and their last number one single was (aptly) Please Don’t Go in 1979.
After the spotlight
The disco sound fell firmly out of favor as soon as the ‘70s were over and an acrimonious split in the early 80s, saw KC and the Sunshine Band part company.
It wasn’t to stay that way forever, though, and in the early ‘90s the band was reformed by Casey, with almost entirely new members, to capitalize on a resurgence in interest for disco music.
Since then the band has continued to gig and release occasional new music, including the critically acclaimed album I’ll Be There For You in 2001.
They’re more than capable of putting on a show, and for nostalgia it’s hard to beat these stalwarts of the ‘70s disco scene. If you’d like to book them for an event, the KC and the Sunshine Band agency is MN2S, so contact them with any enquiries you may have.