After Dr. Love in the '70s came Dr. Beat in the '80s
The big news the past week was the death of Fidel Castro, the enigmatic dictator of Cuba. So many who were born and fled Cuba have strong feelings about the Castro death and still fear for their relatives who continue to live in Cuba. Of the Cuban-American musicians in the '80s, none were bigger than Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, who before they conquered the U.S., displayed their moves with Dr. Beat.
Okay, I will admit it, Miami Sound Machine was a group that I would not brag about listening to in the '80s. Their success was undeniable with a dozen Top 40 hits including several No. 1 songs like Anything For You and Don't Wanna Lose You. Before they blew up in the U.S. in 1985 with Conga, Miami Sound Machine was invading other countries with their first worldwide hit Dr. Beat.
The Miami Sound Machine dates back to 1977 when Emilio Estefan and singer Gloria Fajardo-Garcia combined with four other Cuban-Americans to create seven albums from 1977 to 1984. In 1978, Emilio and Gloria married and they slowly started to find success overseas. In 1984, their band finally landed on a major label and with some synergy due to the increase of popularity of Miami-based movies/shows like Scarface and Miami Vice, the U.S. was finally primed for the Sound Machine. Dr. Beat was a Top 10 hit in the U.K. and Australia in late 1984, but failed to chart in the U.S. Everything would change in 1985 when their Primitive Love album spawned four Top 40 hits.
The video for Dr. Beat is great Latin fun as 27-year-old Gloria Estefan is trapped on top of a building afflicted with a condition that keeps her legs constantly dancing and unable to stop. Lucky for Estefan that Dr. Beat is there to help with his sidekicks of zoot suit dancers, lovely ladies dressed in satin and a masked wrestler. Thankfully Dr. Beat performs a miraculous comedic surgery that saves the day although I'm not sure this operation is covered by an HMO.
Over the years the name Miami Sound Machine was phased out as in 1987 their releases started to appear as Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine and by 1989, all records were released simple as Gloria Estefan solo albums. The Estefans have enjoyed success beyond the '80s and in 2015 were both awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.