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National Beat:Interview with Harry ‘KC’ Casey (a.k.a. KC and The Sunshine Band)

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by Nick McCabe - Front Row Photo

I was recently asked to do an interview with KC, of KC and the Sunshine Band who will be appearing at The Grand Sierra Resort in Reno this coming Saturday, March 8th. Harry ‘KC’ Casey wrote and sang the songs that defined an era. Like it or not! In 1975 he had four number one hit singles in the same year matching a record set by The Beatles. He has been called ‘The Founder of the Dance Revolution”, and has lifetime record sales in excess of 100,000,000. His music has been featured at every sports event you can think of, including the Super Bowl, and been featured in over 200 motion pictures. After reading up on his history, looking at recent posts and talking with him, I’m convinced that if you leave your serious hat at home, and put on your funky cap, you’ll have a good time at this show.

Without any further ado, here’s my conversation with KC.

NM: So, you’re in Florida I guess?
KC: I am. I’m in Miami.
NM: How’s the weather out there?
KC: Beautiful!
NM: Great. It’s going to be pretty good out here when you get here too. Happy Fat Tuesday!
KC: Thanks - same to you.

After a couple minutes of introductory chit chat we started our talk.

NM: My first influence on getting involved in music was seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
KC: That was great.
NM: I was wondering what lit your fire. What made you start playing music?
KC: I grew up in a music family, so I’ve been around it all my life… My mother, my cousins, my aunts…
NM: I’ve read a lot of musician’s biographies over the years, and one thing I find consistent is that at some point in time…there’s a turning point. Can you tell me about that? Was it when you met up with Henry Stone way back in the day?
KC: Yes, when I met up with Henry Stone. He had a record distributorship, and we sold wholesale records to all the local record stores, and in the very back of the building up stairs was a recording studio. He used to also have some other artists – R&B and black artists that he recorded there and I started hanging around the studio.
NM: And then he eventually let you record there?
KC: Yes. With my very first record (Blow Your Whistle) I started making noise on the R&B charts. So (when) I put out that first record it went to number 18 or 20 on the Billboard R&B charts, so they wanted a follow up and it (Sound Your Funky Horn) did the same thing, so they wanted another follow up. Then I started having huge success in Europe with the third single, ‘Queen of Clubs’.
NM: Is that when you did the (self titled) KC and The Sunshine Band album in 1975?
KC: It’s a long story, but I was doing other stuff. I was writing for other artists, I was singing background and playing on other sessions. And then I made the first record with KC and The Sunshine Band, ‘Blow Your Whistle’, and then we did the second one, and then we did the third one (Queen of Clubs)… and then I wrote a song for George McCrea that became ‘Rock Your Baby”, and we went on tour in Europe and we came back and I wrote “Get Down Tonight” and ‘That’s The Way I Like It’.
NM: From my recollection that’s when it all took off, right?
KC: Yes, in the United States.
NM: How was it to handle all the sudden huge success and stardom?
KC: Well, I’d already had success as a song writer, so I was living my dreams.
NM: And that success went on for how many years?
KC: I retired in 1984.
NM: And what did you do during your retirement?
KC: I partied!
NM: That’s good! That’s the way to do it, especially if you have a little bank roll to take care of you. Another thing I was wondering about…was the sudden disappearance of disco in late 1979…
KC: It didn’t really disappear. It only disappeared in people’s minds, but it didn’t disappear musically. They got rid of the name and started calling it ‘club music’, so they never did get rid of it. They kept spinning the records in clubs. They just kept changing the name.
NM: So you retired back in 1984 and you got the band back together around 1991?
KC: It was 1993-ish, and we’ve been pretty much going ever since.
NM: What are your crowds like these days?
KC: What do you mean, ‘what are they like’? They have a great time!
NM: I mean, what are the demographics like? Are they our generation, or are they bringing their kids?
KC: Ya, it’s all ages. We’ve always had a wide demographic. I say we have babies to grandpas.
NM: You’re going to be here playing at The Grand Sierra Resort this coming Saturday (March 8th). What will we be experiencing?
KC: I have 15 people on stage. It’s a choreographed show. Everything in the show will be familiar to the audience, and it’s going to be a really good time. It’s all the hits and then some.
NM: You look like you’re in really good shape and having a good time. What’s in the future for you? Are you going to keep doing this for a long time?
KC: I’m going to keep doing it for as long as I can. I have a new album that will be out very soon called ‘Feeling You’… It should be out late spring or early summer.
NM: Are there any other special events coming up for you?
KC: Right now I’m just enjoying doing the shows. It’s a lot of fun, and we’ll just see where it keeps going.
NM: Thank you very much for your time. I’m looking forward to seeing you Saturday.

Visit his website at: heykcsb.com

…and the beat goes on.

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