The man behind KC and the Sunshine Band once came within a few feet of death in Vegas, which would have robbed us of the creator of “That’s the Way (I Like It)” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.”
We have the story from KC himself. (His 15-piece band performs Saturday at the South Point.)
“We used to come to Vegas two weeks at a time,” KC says.
“We were at the Sahara hotel. One day, we were at the pool, and all of a sudden this glass came crashing down to the floor of the pool.”
Someone had knocked a sliding-glass door off a balcony “or something,” he recalls.
“It was kinda scary,” says the king of disco, also known as Harry Wayne Casey.
Fortunately, the world got to continue to hear “I’m Your Boogie Man” and “Keep It Comin’ Love.”
Here’s another crazy thing: If it weren’t for KC’s disco, the hard rock of Van Halen might never have happened. Maybe, sort of, kind of.
Before Van Halen became famous, they played cover songs at California pool parties. It is well-documented that Van Halen regularly rocked KC’s “Get Down Tonight.”
Years later, the rockers gave him a very special message.
“Van Halen came up to me and said, ‘If it wasn’t for your song “Get Down Tonight,” we probably wouldn’t be here. We used to have to play your songs to get laid.’ ”
KC, a lifelong Miami musician, has fond memories of the disco era in Vegas.
“Cher and I had the same management company. I would be hanging out there at her shows at Caesars Palace,” he says. “It was a simpler time. You had to wear a coat to be inside the casino. And you didn’t walk more than 100 feet from your hotel room to the elevator to the casino floor.”
KC also hung with Joan Rivers here.
“She and I were driving around the golf course picking up golf balls off the course and raiding the dessert refrigerator at the hotel. She’s like an aunt,” KC says. “I love her.”
KC’s classic hits appear destined to play in movies, TV shows and on oldies radio until dinosaurs return to Earth.
KC says the secret to his songwriting success was telling his life stories in songs instead of to friends.
“When I started doing this, I wasn’t thinking about the longevity of them. I was just doing what I loved doing,” he says. “I had been writing since I was 13 years old. I pretty much used to write whenever I had a problem with a girlfriend or a relationship, or just not liking what was happening in the world.”
So in his head, he was always writing about life with lyrics and melodies.
“I wasn’t the type of person to go run and talk to people about stuff. I would write them down lyrically. They were my thoughts. Then I started putting them to music.”
There you go, budding songwriters. Stop blabbing to friends and go write some hits.
MORE NAKED-ISH ‘90210’ TIMES
“Chippendales” has extended the contract of “Beverly Hills, 90210’s” Ian “Steve Sanders” Ziering to rip off his clothes nightly at the Rio through July 14. Without the extension, the contract would have ended Sunday. We’re still waiting to hear when his “90210” cast mates plan to see him strip.
VEGASLAND PLUS STRIPPERS
Deja Vu has started a website name, VegasVuLand.com, similar to my “Vegasland.” A strip club homage to moi? I’m touched.
Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.