Classics: KC & The Sunshine Band – Get Down Tonight (TK Records)
A record store employee and part-timer at TK Records, Harry Wayne Casey came to fame when forming his own band, KC & The Sunshine Band, with musicians both from TK and local band the Miami Junkanoo Band, prior being introduced to Richard Finch who was doin’ sound engineering for the label.
This would mark the beginning of the Casey-Finch musical collaboration/signature. Somewhat embodying the Miami Disco Sound along with other artists they produced such as George McCrae and Jimmy Bo Horne… A signature characterized by the presence of lush piano/synth arrangements over bouncing grooves…
Taken from their 1975 eonymous album, ‘Get Down Tonight’ would be the first of their 5 #1 hits on Billboard 100. Thus standing among their biggest classics along with ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’, ‘(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty’ and ‘I’m Your Boogie Man’. This in addition to ‘Keep It Comin’ Love’ and ‘Please Don’t Go.’
A native of Indianapolis, IN, Richard Finch moved to Hialeh, FL, along with his family when he was a kid. He started learning the bass guitar in his early teens, then had experiences in various country bands before joinin’ Ball & Chain. More and more interested in audio recording techniques, a schoolmate of his introduced him tp TK Records singer songwriter Clarence Reid. Spending as much time he could at TK, he got hired as a part-time recording engineer for the label. Totalizing the engineering of some more than 100 singles by the age of 17. With Reid and label CEO Henry Stone introducing him to Wayne Casey who was working at the shipping department for the label.
The Casey/Finch songwriting collaboration soon after began. This givin’ birth to songs such as ‘Where Is The Love’ and ‘Rock Your Baby’, respectively for Betty Wright and George McCrae. Then came the formation of KC & The Sunshine Band along with guitarist Jerome Smith and drummer Robert Johnson among others. With the band delivering their debut-single – ‘Blow Your Whistle’ – back in September 1973. However, we would have to wait another few months before seeing KC & Co. topping the charts. This with the boiling hot ‘Get Down Tonight’, then ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’ from their eponymous (second) album.
1976 also happened to be a good year for KC & The Sunshine Band with their ‘Part 3’ album featuring hits such as ‘(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty’ and ‘I’m Your Boogie Man’ in addition to ‘Keep It Comin’ Love’. ‘Who Do Ya (Love)’, their 1978 fourth album didn’t generate the same following even though including the infectious ‘Sho-Nuff’. But KC Sunshine would top the charts once more with ‘Please Don’t Go’ in 1979. And make some noise although to a lesser extend with the firing ‘Do You Wanna Go Party’, the title track of their album of the likes. This before progressively losing the scope, as if they’d been the victims of the memorable Disco Demolition Night. Sadly unable to jump on the next wagon from then.
No matter what, the Casey/Finch collaboration pretty much prefigured the arrival of production pairs. Being to the Miami Disco sound what would Rinder & Lewis be to California Disco and Nile Rogers & Bernard Edwards to NY Disco. And eventually bringing Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne to the forefront. This with gems such as ‘Gimme Some’ in 1975. Then ‘Spank’ and ‘Dance Across The Floor’ in 1978. Not to mention ‘You Get Me Hot’ in 1979, then ‘Is It In’ the year after. And they also happened to produce Paul Lewis‘ cover version of Eddie Kendricks‘ classic ‘Girl You Need A Change Of Mind’ in 1979.
Jerome Smith sadly died, aged 47, on Jul. 28, 2000 in a construction accident in West Palm Beach, FL, where he worked as a bulldozer operator.