Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine is an American band that plays Latin-influenced music. The band was formed in 1975 by Gloria Estefan’s husband, Emilio Estefan Jr., and it was originally known as the Miami Latin Boys before they changed their name into Miami Sound Machine in 1977. In this article, we are going to find out the story behind these iconic artists.
In 1977, Miami Sound Machine began recording and releasing several albums and 45s under a record label in Miami, Florida named Audifon Records. Back then the band consisted of Emilio Estefan Jr. on percussion and accordion, Juan Marcos Avila on bass, Enrique Garcia on drums, Gloria Fajardo on hand percussion, and Gloria Estefan and Merci Navarro did the lead vocals.
Miami Sound Machine’s first album was called Live Again/Renacer and it was released with two different covers in 1977. The following year, Emilio Estefan Jr. married Gloria Estefan after two years of dating. After that, the group released several more albums under Audifon Label. In 1979, Miami Sound Machine added Wesley B. Wright as their guitarist and Fernando Garcia to play the trumpet. By the end of 1979, the band signed with another record label named Discos CBS International. Miami Sound Machine released several albums under the record label including 45s and 12-inch singles. The combination of American R&B grooves, the traditional Latin rhythms, the songwriting intelligence of Wesley B. Wright, Gloria Estefan, and Enrique Garcia gave the audience an ensemble of songs filled with crossover musical genres set a standard in music for over two decades.
In 1980, Miami Sound Machine added a new member to their group that’s why they decided to recruit Victor Lopez and Fernando Garcia as their new trumpeters, and Louis Perez as their trombonist. The addition of a horn section in their music resulted in a new dimension of the group’s music and it created the Miami Sound Machine musical trademark.
In 1982, the group decided to add Roger Fisher to their band as their second keyboardist and Gustavo Lezcano as their harmonica player. That same year, lead vocalist Merci Navarro decided to leave the group just before the recording of their third CBS International album Rio. That left the utterly shy Gloria Estefan the duty to be the sole lead vocalist of the band. This challenge improved and evolved Gloria’s singing both systematically and stylistically. That same year, Betty Cortes was added to the group to replace Fisher as the second keyboardist.
During this time, the band was gaining attention from both the TV and radio. That’s why in 1984, their single Dr. Beat became a number one hit in the UK and Continental Europe. Thanks to Gloria’s sassy vocals, Emilio’s infectious conga drums, the song’s catchy lyrics, and Wright’s funky guitar skills. This success caused several record labels in the United States to notice the group’s talent potential. On that same year, they released their album Eyes of Innocence which featured the ballad hit song I Need Your Love. In 1985, Miami Sound Machine released their album Primitive Love. The album proved to be a successful one because it managed to produce three top 10 hits songs namely Bad Boy Conga, and Words Get in the Way entered the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
After the band embarked on a massive world tour that ran from 1985 to 1986, some of its members left the group and they were Wesley B. Wright, Roger Fisher, and Juan Marcos Avila. This was also the time when Emilio Estefan decided to be the band’s producer and stop performing live.
In 1987, Miami Sound Machine decided to return to the studio with their new members. George Casas played the bass, John DeFaria was their new guitarist, and Clay Ostwald played the keyboards. This time, Gloria Estefan was given the top billing and the band changed its name to Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine and this was to capitalize the lead singer’s appeal and popularity. That same year, they released their album called Let It Loose which became a multi-platinum album and sold over three million copies in the United States alone. The album featured several hit songs such as Anything for You, Rhythm’s Gonna Get You, and Can’t Stay Away from You. The band once again went on a world tour where they first performed live in Europe and South America.
In 1988, founding member Enrique Garcia decided to leave the band leaving Gloria Estefan as the only core member left in the group. That’s why the moniker “Miami Sound Machine” was only used for concerts and live performances only. After this, their album Let it Loose was repackaged internationally as Anything for You and it became their first number one album in the UK. This album also launched Gloria Estefan’s superstar status.
In 2002, Emilio Estefan attempted to create a shoot-off Miami Sound Machine with a new eponymous album but with a totally different band line up. But without a real connection to the preexisting Miami Sound Machine artists and Gloria Estefan’s vocals, the project only received moderate success in some European countries and it failed to enter the US charts too.