Harry Wayne Casey and his band brought us number one hits like GET DOWN TONIGHT, THAT’S THE WAY (I LIKE IT), BOOGIE SHOES, I’M YOUR BOOGIE MAN, SHAKE YOUR BOOTY and KEEP IT COMIN’ LOVE. He is one of our own local celebrities who placed Miami on the map as a music and dance capital. 55+ is very proud to have the opportunity to speak with him.
55+ You have a great love for the South Florida area, tell us about that?
KC I was born and raised here. I have lived here my whole life…. 65 years. I have traveled to many places around the world but I just love South Florida. I love the energy! It’s more of a transient city, and it’s changing in a lot of ways. I think it has grown immensely. There’s a lot of art and music here. There is more available now than when I was growing up. Back then it was just a small town. I love the weather. I love the people. I love everything about it!
55+ How did you decide on being called KC and the name of your band, “The Sunshine Band?”
KC My last name is Casey, which is Irish-Italian. The K and C sounded like Casey so I went with that. Since we are from the Sunshine State, I just named my band the “Sunshine Band.”
55+ How did your interest in music come about?
KC Both sides of my family are very musically inclined. My mother and her sisters did radio commercials back in the 40s and 50s here in Miami. I was always around music. I grew up in a Gospel Church and music was just part of it. My mother liked to dance so there was always music in my home. My grandfather was from Italy and he played the guitar and he loved his music.
55+ Which music artists inspired you mostly, growing up?
KC I grew up in the 50s and 60s so I like R&B more than anything but I also like the Motown sound. There was James Brown! There is also all the great stuff like Aretha Franklin, all the R&B and Soul from Atlantic Records. But I do like all kinds of music.
55+ “KC and the Sunshine Band” was the first band after the Beatles in 1964 to have 4 number one records in one year (1976). This must make you very proud?
KC Yes! Absolutely! There are a lot of accomplishments that we have made over the years. We helped put Miami on the map and make Miami a leading city for music. For someone who came from South Florida, I didn’t think I even had a chance to make it. There were some recording studios here at that time, but not much of a record industry that I knew of.
55+ You won several Grammys, right?
KC Yes. I was nominated 9 times and I received 3 Grammys.
55+ You are credited with being one of the founders of the Miami Sound. What does this mean to you?
KC It is a great accomplishment. I never thought I would make it because I thought I had to go to LA or New York or Memphis or Nashville or somewhere other than Miami to really make it. The way things worked out I was able to make it right here in my own town. I helped inspire other local artists to think that they could do it also. Because of the things we did, it generated a whole new energy here in Miami for making music. People knew that they did not have to go anywhere else and they could make it right here. It opened a lot of doors for everyone. It put a national spotlight on the music scene in Miami!
55+ You had a bad car accident in 1982, near your home in Hialeah, which left you paralyzed for 6 months. That must have been really tough for you. Was this one of the reasons you took a break from music in the 1980s?
KC It was not because of the accident. It was a couple of years after that. I had the car accident, then my last album, then my father died, and I really got heavy into drugs. I was just tired and I just did not want to do it anymore. I was tired of being told what to do, where to be, when to smile and when not. I was just tired of the industry. It just took its toll and I just did not want to have anything to do with it.
55+ In 2002, you received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. How was that for you?
KC You know you do all these things and to finally be asked to have a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is quite an honor. I travelled there many times and walked down those streets and walked over those stars. Now that I have my own there, it is pretty amazing!
55+ You were involved in raising funds for AIDS Awareness. Tell us how that came about?
KC I am involved in a lot of different things. We do things for AIDS. One of the main causes is AIDS Research. I know a lot of people and friends that have passed away from AIDS. I feel like one of the responsibilities of artists and people that have done well is to share that and help others. I try to get involved in many things as much as possible for that reason.
55+ What other charities are important to you that you have been involved with?
KC Diabetes. My mom and others in my family were diabetics. Cancer Research too. I love animals so anything that has to do with animals like rescue organizations. I have also been involved with the Parkinson’s Foundation.
55+ 43 years after you started “KC and the Sunshine Band” in 1973, you are still playing in venues around the world. Where do you get your energy?
KC You know, I do not feel my age. I do work out a lot. I have always been very hyperactive. Growing up, I was a very hyperactive kid. I do not even know how to explain where I get the energy from. I just have it. I am 65 and I have the energy of a 21 year old. I think some young people have a hard time keeping up with me!
55+ What is next for KC? Any new projects you are working on that you can share with us?
KC We have a new single that is on the dance billboard charts. We released a Christmas CD last year. We released another album in 2015 called ‘Feeling You! The 60s.’ It is a collection of songs from the 1960s done in the “KC and the Sunshine Band” way. So I have new music coming out and will continue touring. Maybe do some television down the road and more recording. Whatever way it leads me. Take me where it wants me to go! •
Visit KC and the Sunshine Band website at www.heykcsb.com