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Sunday, April 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Four decades, and that’s the way they like it

KC and the Sunshine Band keep pumping up audiences with their disco hits

By Margaret Gallardo McClatchy-Tribune

Whether it was under the spinning mirror ball, on a record player or on the radio, many know exactly when they first heard the pulsating sounds of KC and the Sunshine Band.

The disco-playing group of the 1970s is still as popular today as they were when they first danced onto the music scene more than 40 years ago. Behind the recognizable vocals of Harry Wayne Casey (KC for short), the driving force behind the disco, R&B and funk fusion sound, the group grooved its way onto the charts with such hits as “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Get Down Tonight,” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “Please Don’t Go,” “Boogie Nights,” “Keep it Comin’ Love,” “Shake Your Booty,” and the list goes on.

With sales of more than 100 million records, nine Grammy nominations, three Grammy Awards and an American Music Award, KC and the Sunshine Band was one of the most progressive bands of the 1970s and is credited with changing the sound of modern pop music.

And yet, after four decades, the group is still touring, playing more than 100 shows annually around the nation as well throughout Europe, Australia and South America to thousands of fans, old and new. One of those shows is Saturday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.

“It never gets old,” KC said from his home in Miami. “Every night is different, every location is different, every show is different. But at every one, we entertain and have a blast. I love what I do and I’ve done it a long time.

“At concerts, I play all the hits because I know that’s what everyone wants to hear, wants to dance to,” he added. “We toss in a few other songs, but it’s all pretty much uptempo. I love it when the fans jump up and dance and enjoy the music. That’s what it’s all about.”

KC started working in the music business at 17, when he was a part-time employee at TK Records in Hialeah, Florida. In 1973, he started his own band, using studio musicians from TK and a local Junkanoo band (a group of entertainers providing Bahamian-style Afro-Caribbean music), calling themselves KC and the Sunshine Junkanoo Band. He then teamed up with music engineer Richard Finch, and that was the founding collaboration of what became KC and the Sunshine Band.

After releasing their self-titled album in 1975, the band skyrocketed behind four No. 1 hits in a 12-month period, becoming the first to do so since The Beatles in 1964, and earning triple-platinum status in the process.

Their next album, “Part 3” in 1976, also was triple platinum and featured three more No. 1 hits. The soundtrack from “Saturday Night Fever,” which debuted “Boogie Shoes,” catapulted their success even higher. KC won the Grammy for Producer of the Year for his work on the soundtrack, a songwriting Grammy for best R&B song and a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. He also won the American Music Award for Best R&B Artist.

In 2001, he was honored with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ Governor’s Award, the highest honor given by a chapter of the academy.

KC and the Sunshine Band’s music continues to be a favorite today. KC’s songs have appeared in many commercials, have been featured in more than 75 movies and TV shows and are regularly heard at sporting events, not to mention that the band’s grooves and bass lines have been sampled by past and current music artists.

“When I was a kid when I got into this, I knew this is what I wanted to be doing the rest of my life,” said KC, who turned 63 this year. “We have new albums coming out soon and I’m just as excited now as I was then.

“I always knew I would be in music from the beginning. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

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