Ahead of San Diego County Fair Show, KC and the Sunshine Band frontman reflects on a smash career
It was almost 50 years ago when KC and the Sunshine Band, with its charismatic frontman known simply as KC, became a disco-infused music sensation by scoring an impressive five No. 1 singles including “That’s The Way (I Like It)” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.” Despite the passage of time, their memorable tunes have remained a ubiquitous part of the music landscape, and KC (a moniker derived from his full name Harry Wayne Casey) is still performing for a fervent nationwide fanbase.
“I never did think too far into the future,” explains KC ahead of his upcoming headlining gig at the San Diego County Fair’s Grandstand Stage on July 1. “I never would have expected the comeback of our music or the current popularity of it all. It’s something I could have never imagined, dreamed, or thought of. You never know what tomorrow’s going to bring.”
KC, a native of the Miami area who still resides there, was originally a record store employee who parlayed his talents into launching what was originally dubbed KC and the Sunshine Junkanoo Band, named after the Caribbean festival.
“I came from a record company that had a lot of one hit wonders,” says KC of the cutthroat music industry and the fact that many artists didn’t survive past one popular song. “After our first hit record, we did what everyone else had done. After the second one, we were happy we had a second chance. But it wasn’t until after our third hit record did we realize that a pretty solid thing was happening.”
Unlike many artists of the day, KC wrote and produced the majority of his own songs, from the funky “Boogie Shoes” to “Keep It Comin’ Love” and “Get Down Tonight.”
“All of my songs have something to do with love,” he says of his lyrical point of view. “They were about being in love, wanting to be in love, or what love brings to you.”
When it comes to his earworm 1975 smash “That’s The Way (I Like It),” the party song was originally supposed to be a tad more seductive. “The ah-ha’s in that track were designed to be a bit more risque, but I made them radio friendly,” says KC with a laugh. “The rest of the lyrics come from all of the things you like when you’re with someone you love.”
Now 68 years-old, KC can’t help but marvel at both the changing music industry and the world at large while he’s on the road.
“Everything is growing and changing constantly,” he says. “I remember when we first visited all of these cities, they didn’t have jetways at the airport. You’d walk down the steps and onto the tarmac to get off the plane. Every city has transformed so much, it’s always a shock when I visit a place I haven’t been to in 10 or 20 years.”
And while Miami will always be KC’s home, he notes that San Diego is a close runner up.
“I was born in Miami and I still have some cousins and a niece who lives here,” he says. “I love the heat and humidity, but if I had a second choice San Diego would be a place I’d really enjoy living. It’s a lot like Miami and I always have the best time in San Diego.”
Luckily, KC will have another chance to visit the area during his San Diego County Fair gig on July 1 in Del Mar.
“Music is the soundtrack to all of our lives,” he says, about his music’s cultural impact.“I know what music has done for me, so I can only imagine what my music has done for people.”
At the same time, he’s quick to note how grateful he is for both his success and longevity.
“The circle of my peers is getting smaller, so I’m just very blessed and thankful I’m still here and able to enjoy it. I made it through the storm and the music is still moving mountains and making waves.”
KC and the Sunshine Band, who have won numerous awards and have sold over 100 million albums worldwide, will perform Monday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the San Diego County Fair’s Corona Grandstand Stage. Go to sdfair.com for tickets and more information; tickets can also be purchased at ticketmaster.com, (800) 745-3000, or at Del Mar Fairgrounds’ O’Brien Gate Box Office.