KC and the Sunshine Band

Published on July 13th, 2018

KC and the Sunshine Band have a history made for the movies: Blue eyed-soul singer from the mean streets of Hialeah finds a kindred spirit at the local recording studio where they both work, and they decide to lay down some sweet-ass funky disco. The music hits, stardom arrives, and frontman Harry Wayne Casey — KC himself — is an international idol. The “Miami sound” — pre-Gloria Estefan  — is a thing exported the world over by a little Hialeah record label, TK, that is punching massively above its weight. In short order, KC and the Sunshine Band are demonstrating Beatles-like chart dominance with serial No. 1s that feed a craze and become defining tracks of an era.

But Casey and collaborator Richard Finch fall out, disco goes bust and the band breaks up. Casey is seriously hurt in a car wreck, and must relearn how to walk. He records a new song (“Give It Up”) that charts, revives the band and embarks on his second act.

That gets us to about the mid-’90s.

For as much flack as disco takes, chances are good you probably know the rest of this lyric: “Shake, shake, shake/shake, shake, shake/shake your ___ .” I imagine you even went “Owww!” afterwards. KC and the Sunshine Band wrote that, as well as “Boogie Shoes,” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “Keep it Comin’ Love,” “That’s the Way (I Like It),” and “Get Down Tonight.” Basically, the soundtrack to the ’70s and the music that many of us were conceived to.

Nowadays Casey is licensing his classic tracks for things he might never have imagined: the Dance Dance Revolution video game series; and movies including “Blow,” “Boogie Nights” and “Roll Bounce.” Horror-rock disco lord Rob Zombie covered “I’m Your Boogie Man,” clearly adapting the song to its true dark and schlocky purpose.

Meanwhile, the band plays on. What else are you going to as the ambassador since forever of booty-shaking boogie? If Casey never gets his epic biopic, he’ll always have his episode of Vh1’s “Behind the Music.” Now how about an honorary doctorate in body movement?

KC and the Sunshine Band play July 20 at the Hard Rock Event Center in Hollywood. seminolehardrockhollywood.com ~ Tim Moffatt

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