Among the most successful recording artists of the 1970s, Harry Wayne Casey — the KC in KC and the Sunshine Band — spent most of the past 20 years out of the recording studio.
Despite a discography that includes the No. 1 hits “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Boogie Shoes” and “Rock Your Baby,” Casey lost interest in making new music.
His disinterest, however, suddenly changed, when Lee Dagger, the U.K.-based remixer and producer who is one-half of dance-music group Bimbo Jones, sent some instrumental tracks to the Miami-based Casey.
Dagger and his partner in Bimbo Jones, Marc JB, have contributed to more than 70 No. 1 songs in the U.S. and U.K. Their huge list of credits include Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Sergio Mendes, Cyndi Lauper and Leo Sayer.
Casey received the Dagger tracks in May 2012, but didn’t give them a hard listen until December 2012.
“All of a sudden creative stuff just started coming out of me again,” he said recently from his Miami home. “It was like I had woken up from a creative coma.”
Casey wrote and recorded an album of new KC and the Sunshine Band songs. During the sessions, he also recorded three songs from the 1960s. Then he got another inspiration. He’d make two albums, one featuring his original material and another featuring KC and the Sunshine Band’s interpretations of songs from the ’60s.
Casey released “Feeling You! The 60s” in March. He’ll release the album of original songs at a later date.
The 17-track “Feeling You!” includes songs from Casey’s ’60s record collection, originally popularized by Bob Dylan, New Orleans recording artists Aaron Neville and Huey “Piano” Smith,” Ben E. King, The Kinks, The Righteous Brothers, Jackie DeShannon, Sam Cooke and Motown acts The Supremes and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
“I owned all of them on 45s,” Casey said. “I selected some stuff because they were always fun when I was kid and I thought they’d be really fun performing live. Other songs I have an emotional connection to. And some express how I feel, like ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’ That’s a little political statement. And ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart’ is what I feel like we all need to do.”
Casey made of huge list of potential songs for the ’60s album.
“I thought about ‘I’m Your Puppet’ and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,’ ” he said. “I had to make sure I didn’t make all Motown, because I was a Motown nut.”
About Neville’s 1966 national hit, “Tell It Like It is,” Casey said, “I’ve always loved that song. It’s how I feel sometimes. I just tell it like it is.”
Neither of the two best-known versions of Smith’s “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Flu,” actually, were released in the 1960s. His original rhythm-and-blues hit appeared in 1957. Johnny Rivers’ “Rocking Pneumonia” remake became a Top 10 pop hit in 1972.
“I mistakenly thought the Johnny Rivers record came out of the ’60s,” Casey said. “But what makes it OK for that song to be on my ’60s album is that it was recorded by many people in the ’60s before Johnny Rivers recorded it.”
Casey and his musicians made no attempt to copy the original recordings of “I Hear a Symphony,” “Sweet Soul Music,” “Stand By Me,” “Blowin’ in the Wind” and the other songs on “Feeling You! The 60s.”
“We didn’t listen to anybody’s else record,” he said. “I just let the guys play and feel it. I wanted the process to be as natural as possible. I think it brought great new energy to the songs.”
More than 35 years after the anti-disco backlash by rock fans and the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Casey is still here. His songs, too.
“Everybody took a dig at disco music,” he said. “But the music has lived. It’s 2015 and look at the charts. Pitbull, Flo Rida, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams. All of them. Bruno Mars has the No. 1 record, which is so disco-y, dance-y it’s ridiculous. And clubs are bigger than they’ve ever been, everywhere you go, every city. People love to dance.”