It’s been nearly 40 decades since K.C. and the Sunshine Band first began topping the charts with disco hits like “Get Down Tonight,” “Shake Your Booty,” “Boogie Shoes” and “I’m Your Boogie Man.” But did you know that band founder front man Harry Wayne Casey (K.C.) got his start in nearby Hialeah, Florida and has never lived further than 10 miles from his birthplace?
In 1973, the Vietnam War was still raging on and young people staged protests across the country. President Richard Nixon was under investigation after the infamous Watergate burglary. Inflation and unemployment were on the rise. People were looking for a distraction and found one in the “dance revolution” started by K.C.
“I grew up in a very musical family. My cousins all sang or played instruments. My mother and her sisters used to do local radio commercials. I was kind of well-rounded. Growing up in a gospel church, there was always music in the church. When I was 13 or 14, my sister wanted a piano and I started taking a few lessons. After a while, my teacher told me I knew more than she did. It was her kind way of telling me she didn’t want to teach me anymore,” Casey recalled with a chuckle.
Casey was determined to get into the music business. He worked at a local record store, opened boxes at Tone Record Distributors and hung around a local recording studio just hoping to get his big break and record a song.
That break eventually came and the rest is history: four Number One records in a row, Grammy awards, People’s Choice awards and American Music awards and featured performances at every major sporting event in the world, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA championships, collegiate bowl games, NASCAR championships, World Cup, Indianapolis 500 and the Kentucky Derby. Not to mention, his songs are a staple for D.J.s at nearly every wedding, confirmation and bar mitzvah party in the world.
His favorite song?
“That’s a hard question, they all mean something different to me,” he answered. “I’ve always had lots of favorites. Maybe ‘Get Down Tonight,’ my first number one record.”
Along the way, he’s been accompanied by the Sunshine Band, a group of pick-up musicians he assembled for that first recording session. Musicians have come and gone over the years, but Casey looks forward to every performance singing the upbeat songs that made K.C. and his band a household name.
Casey will perform those classics along with the newer songs he’s been working on at the new Hard Rock Events Center at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood on Friday, July 20.
He recognizes that today’s stars face different challenges, especially in the era of YouTube:
“I’m not sure how it all really works. Sometimes I think there were more opportunities to get your music on the radio back then, but (YouTube) has given people a lot of opportunities and an outlet to express their creativity,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate, very blessed.”
K.C. and the Sunshine Band perform live at the Hard Rock Events Center at the Hard Rock Hotel and casino in Hollywood on Friday, July 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $35 at MyHRL.com.