Formed in Miami, Florida, USA in 1973, this Latin/funk/pop group was originally a trio called the Miami Latin Boys, comprising Emilio Estefan (b. 4 March 1953, Cuba; keyboards), Juan Avila (bass) and Enrique ‘Kiki’ Garcia (drums), each of whom was born in Cuba and raised in Miami. The following year the group played at a friend’s wedding where they were joined onstage by singer Gloria Fajardo (b. 1 September 1957, Havana, Cuba). The latter at first refused to join the group, then agreed to sing with them part-time as she pursued her studies. In 1975, the quartet changed its name to Miami Sound Machine. They recorded their first single, ‘Renecer’, for a local Hispanic company that year. Emilio and Gloria married in 1978. In 1979, the group recorded its first album, sung entirely in Spanish; it was picked up for distribution by CBS Records International. They recorded seven Spanish-language records during the next six years, becoming successful in predominantly US Hispanic areas, Central and South America, as well as in Europe. Meanwhile, the group’s membership grew to nine musicians. Their first English-language single, ‘Dr. Beat’, was released in 1984 and became a club/Top 10 hit in the UK, where the group then flew to appear on the BBC Television programme Top Of The Pops. The following year the group toured Japan successfully, and was honoured by their hometown Miami, which renamed a local street Miami Sound Machine Boulevard. Signed to Epic Records, their first US chart single was ‘Conga’ in 1985, reaching number 10 by early 1986. That same year saw two other US Top 10 singles, ‘Bad Boy’ and the ballad ‘Words Get In The Way’, and Billboard named them the year’s top singles act. Their first English-language album, Primitive Love, reached number 23 that same year.
The group officially changed its name to Gloria Estefan And Miami Sound Machine in 1987, a year that brought one Top 10 single, ‘Rhythm Is Gonna Get You’, and Let it Loose, which reached number 6 by the spring of 1988. Another Top 10 single, ‘Can’t Stay Away From You’, and the number 1 ballad, ‘Anything For You’, were highlights of early 1988. The year closed with another US/UK Top 10 single, ‘1-2-3’. Gloria Estefan released a solo album, Cuts Both Ways, which also made the Top 10, in the summer of 1989, after which she went on to enjoy a hugely successful pop career under her own name.