May 26, 2017
It was party-all-the-time during the ‘70s for everyone but Harry Casey, a/k/a KC of the Sunshine Band.
“People think I had all of the fun back then, but it’s not true,” Casey said while calling from Omaha, Neb.
“I was so busy in the studio. I worked most of every day. I woke up at 3 in the afternoon and worked until the sun came up. I didn’t take vacations. I just worked while everyone got else screwed up.”
It wasn’t until the following decade that the charismatic singer-songwriter let loose.
“I waited until 1984 to go crazy with drugs and stuff,” Casey said. “I don’t regret working so hard during the ‘70s. I’m proud of what I achieved.”
Casey should let his chest swell considering what he accomplished. The Bee Gees and Donna Summer score much of the credit for disco mania. But KC and the Sunshine Band were right there with those recording artists. The R&B turned disco act were a ‘70's hit machine. “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “I’m Your Boogie Man” and “Keep It Comin’ Love” are just some of the hits KC and the Sunshine Band recorded.
“It was the most amazing time,” Casey said.
“We had everything going on. It was more fun than anyone could imagine. We had incredible success.”
The three-time Grammy winners inspired a myriad of music fans to dance.
“That was what it was about,” Casey said. “We made people want to get up and have fun.”
More than a generation after the band’s peak, dance remains very popular, but different, courtesy of the DJ culture.
“It’s fascinating to see the way things have morphed,” Casey said.
“People will always want to dance. DJs have become superstars and that’s so cool. There are so many different sounds. With computers, it’s enabled DJs to try different things and be very creative. It’s a great time for DJs and dance music.
People love to dance. Look at what has been popular over recent years. Look at 'Uptown Funk.' That song is so danceable. I’m all about dance music being as good as it can be. I love to dance.”
That’s so, even though Casey, 66, was part of a head-on car crash in 1982, which left him partially paralyzed for six months. Casey had to learn how to walk, play piano and dance again.
“It was incredibly scary,” Casey said. “It was a process, but I wanted to be able to do everything that I was once able to do. I especially wanted to dance.”
Casey survived the accident, and also the "Disco Sucks" movement, which emerged during the late ‘70s.
“That was a ridiculous campaign,” Casey said. “It was so overblown. The public was brainwashed and disco never died. Madonna became a massive star and so much of what she has done is disco. People still come out to see us. We’re not just about disco but dancing and having fun.”
People still come out to see us. We’re not just about disco but dancing and having fun.”
KC and the Sunshine Band is one of the most sampled acts in pop history. Beyonce and The Notorious B.I.G. are among the iconic acts who have appropriated sonic bits Casey crafted.
“I was always very flattered by that,” he said.
“A lot of critics attacked us, but I think when you have these amazing artists sample us, it adds legitimacy. Some pretty cool people evidently love what we’ve done.”
When KC and the Sunshine Band perform Sunday, May 28 at the Ocean City Pier, expect an evening of hits.
“I know I’ve sung these songs a million times, but it never gets tired,” Casey said.
“That’s because the audience is so pumped up when they hear a song like 'Get Down Tonight' or 'I’m Your Boogie Man.' Their excitement gets me going. I love it and I hope we can do this for many more years.”
Casey is working on a new album.
“I’ve been at these songs since December of 2012,” Casey said. “I can still create. I know how to have a good time, so you can have a good time too.”
For more information on Sunday's show, click here.