KC and the Sunshine Band comprised, in the main, session musicians from the TK Studios which were owned by Henry Stone (who had run a record distribution company in the United States for 20 years).
Vocalist/keyboard player Harry Wayne Casey (‘KC’) started out singing in church and in various little local talent shows around Miami. He formed the Sunshine Band – originally named K.C. & the Sunshine Junkanoo Band – with bassist Rick Finch.
Blow Your Whistle, the first single from KC & the Sunshine Band, featured Finch and KC, along with Philip Wright (Betty‘s brother) on guitar and the percussionists from the Betty Wright Revue. Recorded in June 1973, it was a hit in England, as was the next, Sound Your Funky Horn.
That track introduced the heart of the Sunshine Band – KC, Finch, drummer Robert ‘Shotgun’ Johnson and guitarist Jerome Smith (who had both previously worked with Betty Wright).
The follow-up, Queen of Clubs, was their third straight English hit.
Meanwhile, George McCrae’s huge hit Rock Your Baby, one of the first American disco anthems, was the work of KC and Finch – they wrote it, produced it and played behind it.
Their first major hit in the USA came with the release of their self-titled second album in 1975. Get Down Tonight topped the R&B chart in April and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August.
That’s the Way (I Like It) also became a #1 hit in November 1975.
The 1976 album Part 3 yielded two #1 singles with I’m Your Boogie Man and (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty. Keep It Comin’ Love peaked at #2.
The band’s success lasted until their fifth album in 1979 and their chart-topping hit Please Don’t Go which reached #1 for one week in January 1980
Guitarist Jerome Smith died in July 2000 when he fell off the bulldozer he was driving and was crushed by the machine.
Rick Finch was arrested in Newark, Ohio, in March 2010 and accused of having sexual contact with a 17-year-old male. He admitted to having sexual contact with that teen and other teens aged 13 to 17. At his trial in December, Finch pleaded “no contest” and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
He served his sentence in Chillicothe Correctional Institution, a medium-security state prison in Ohio and was released on 13 March 2017.
Harry Casey (‘KC’)
Richard ‘Rick’ Finch
Robert ‘Shotgun’ Johnson
Denvil ‘Demp’ Liptrot