New Attitude

Back on tour with his Sunshine Band, KC enjoys relaxing time out with his desert friends



Sisters Linda Fineo and Victoria Phillips sandwich KC at his La Quinta home.

Raymond Shadman

Harry Wayne Casey, aka KC, founder of KC and the Sunshine Band, lives like a rock star in the desert — but without the star trappings. “We play cards, hike the Bump and Grind Trail, and go out to dinner,” he says. “We’ll have a barbecue, or I might meet up with one of my friends, like Barry.”

That’s Barry Manilow, who lives nearby in Palm Springs. Though KC has homes in Florida, North Carolina, and Hawaii, he says, “I probably feel the most relaxed here. I love the mountains and there’s just an energy here, a calming energy.”

Wandering in and out of the living room of his La Quinta home during our conversation are two more reasons KC loves the desert: his close friends, sisters Linda Fineo and Victoria Phillips. “We met about 20 years ago in Hawaii — they were stalking me,” ” he jokes.

Fineo and Phillips have become so much a part of KC’s life that they often finish his sentences. “We go to a lot of restaurants …” he says. “Sullivan’s, Pacifica, Miro’s, Morgan’s,” Phillips shouts from the next room.

When KC started the Sunshine Band in 1973, his life revolved around music, especially after “Get Down Tonight” soared to the top of the charts in 1975 and brought the band worldwide fame. “Other songs were catching people’s attention in Europe before that, but with that second album everything just clicked,” he says. The group went on to sell more than 100 million records and win three Grammy Awards.

The pace of performing and promoting took its toll, and KC retired in the mid-1980s. “I think I was just done,” he says. “The business is very political, and I was tired of being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. I walked away, and I started partying. I did things in my 30s that people do in their teens. I had a lot of fun, but I almost killed myself a few times.”

Despite his hesitations, KC reunited with the Sunshine Band for a 1991 performance on the Arsenio Hall Show. “My father said, ‘Never give up,’ and that’s exactly what I’d done,” KC says. “I did the Arsenio show and I got to thinking, ‘Wow, this is really what you love to do, this is what you’ve wanted to do all your life. And what have you done? You’ve stopped and thrown it all away. You’ve given up and you’re getting high every other day.’

“After that, I started taking some shows here and there. I was still doing the drugs, and I’d miss flights and sometimes barely get there in time. So again, I started thinking, ‘You need to make a choice here, dude.’ I checked into rehab at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. I was supposed to go for two weeks, and I stayed for three months.”

He laughs and adds, “I kind of became the head of entertainment while I was there. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in the evening because it was an outpatient situation where everyone stayed across the street. But I realized that after we were done with our treatment we would need to live a normal life, and were going to be with people who drank alcohol and we’d want to go out and socialize. I didn’t want to cut myself off from all of that. I sort of became the activities director of the rehab center and created bingo nights, movie nights, karaoke, and all sorts of different social things.”

Nowadays, living a normal life is what KC does, even with the band’s 80-some gigs a year. “I try to keep my show familiar to everyone in the audience,” KC says. “We don’t just perform our hit records. I’d rather do a song that’s familiar to the audience than pick some obscure cuts from my albums. It’s all about having a good time. There are babies to grandmas in my crowds, so I try to make everyone happy.

“I started working on a new album and it’s turned into two albums,” he adds. “One of them is all new, contemporary stuff and the other is all ’60s classics. There’s some great music from the ’60s. It’s when I grew up, and I think those songs were early influences on my work.”

KC and the Sunshine Band was honored in July with the 357th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. In addition to fans of all ages, the crowd outside See’s Candy for the dedication included Manilow and members of the Village People.

“Palm Springs is awesome,” KC says. “The people, the great restaurants, the relaxed feeling here.” And yes, that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, he likes it.

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Gang of Four Brings Latest Album to Pappy & Harriet's Stop

Like many bands that have survived over the years. Gang of Four has undergone some lineup changes, but through it all guitarist Andy Gill has kept moving forward and not living by the past.

Rami Jaffee Leads All-Star Band Appearance at Saxony Group Fashion Week El Paseo

Rami Jaffee brings a hefty musical resume of playing with the Wallflowers and Foo Fighters, and he and his all-star band will rock Saxony Group Fashion Week El Paseo on March 23 during "El Paseo Runway Night."

Festival of the Desert Makes Debut at Sunnylands

Festival of the Desert brings an international flavor and artistic edge in its debut March 18 split between Sunnylands and McCallum Theatre.

Bryan Brothers Serve Up Entertainment at BNP Paribas Open

Whether competing on the court as the No. 1 doubles team in the world or delighting fans with their musical prowess, the Mike and Bob Bryan will rock the BNP Paribas Open.

Adam Levine Picks Coachella Valley Resident from "The Voice" Blind Audition

Coachella Valley singer Barry Minniefield hasn’t quite found a signature style of his own, but he has attracted the attention of Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, who chose him during "The Voice's" blind audition.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.