KC & the Sunshine Band
and the Sunshine Band had already scored two hit records in Britain ("Queen of Clubs," "Sound Your Funky Horn") when they finally achieved success in their own country with "Get Down Tonight." It was the second number one single for both the T.K. label and writer/producers Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, who had previously co-written and co-produced "Rock Your Baby" for George McCrae in 1974.
Casey gladly accepted, and the next time he needed to pick up records from Tone he went to see the studio. "Right then, there was a feeling that 'I want to be around here,'" he remembers. "So I used to hang out there every day after work. I'd sit around for hours. Finally they gave me a key to the door. I asked them for a job in the warehouse and they didn't have anything open."
Undeterred, Casey helped box records and did other odd jobs for no pay. He started to play keyboards on some sessions and was allowed to produce some records for a band by Betty Wright's manager, Willie Clark. About a year later, Rick Finch was hired to work in the studio for $46 a week. "He was very electronically inclined," says Casey. "He loved to tear things apart and fix them. We both seemed like underdogs (at the company) and I had some insight there was something greater there."
Casey and Finch spent their time in the studio after hours, writing and rehearsing material. At a wedding reception for Clarence Reid, they were fascinated by the Caribbean band's "junkanoo" music, a blend of whistle flutes, steel drums and cowbells. Shortly after, Casey heard those whistles again at a Timmy Thomas concert in Washington, D.C. Flying back to Florida, he started to write "Blow Your Whistle" on the plane. That song and "Sound Your Funky Horn" were recorded by Casey and Finch with studio musicians, but by the time they cut "Queen of Clubs," they put together an authentic Sunshine Band, which included guitarist Jerome Smith, drummer Robert Johnson and conga player Fermin Goytisolo.
Casey recalls the night he laid down his vocal track for "Get Down Tonight." "I couldn't believe it was such an incredible sound," he says. "I remember they must have played it back a hundred times and I couldn't believe it -- it had that strange, mystical feeling, a feeling I had never felt before."
Because of their European success, KC and the Sunshine Band were not in the United States when the record was climbing the Billboard Hot 100. They arrived home in time to celebrate the single moving into the number one position on August 30, 1975.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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