(Warren, NJ) — With humble beginnings as a wedding band, the Miami Sound Machine had already been well known in the Miami area in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In 1977 with the addition of a young vocalist named Gloria Maria Fajardo Garcia, later known as Gloria Estefan, they became a phenomenon of the Latin music scene.
But it wasn’t until Discos CBS, a subsidiary of CBS International, put out the album Primitive Love on Epic Records in 1985 that the band crossed over into mainstream mega-success. And Jim Hayes, president of Discos CBS, was at the helm.
“Gloria was in my office three or four times a week,” he remembers from his apartment at The Chelsea at Warren assisted living residence in Warren, NJ. “She didn’t think we were spending enough money on promoting the group, and she was right.”
The rest is history, of course, and Jim has the platinum album to prove it.
“I really wanted that job,” he says, recalling the six years he spent in Miami. He had been a veteran of the publishing industry, working for several book companies, one of which was acquired by CBS. He was elevated along the way by his friend and mentor, CBS President John D. Backe, becoming Vice President for Planning and Communications for CBS Records International in 1979.
“I developed this system using Wang computers to centralize all the artists’ contracts,” he recalls. “At the time, the secretaries couldn’t believe that when they typed something in New York, it would appear in Paris.”
He jumped at the chance to become President and General Manager of Discos CBS, wanting a job with more excitement and a change of scenery. That was in 1985, just as the Miami Sound Machine emerged into the main stream. Hayes was in the driver’s seat.
“Gloria and my daughter Carrie became friends,” he says. “Once at a concert in Connecticut, Carrie and some of her friends were hoping to see Gloria back stage after the show. Emilio (Estefan’s husband) came out and said she had to make a flight and didn’t have time. When the concert was over, Emilio came out again to where Carrie was sitting and said, ‘Come with me’. They followed him to a limo where Gloria invited all the girls in to sit with her. They talked and had a great time.”
Today, Hayes, 83, is surrounded by dozens of photo albums, photos of his 6 children, 19 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren, and technology that keeps him connected via internet, phone and TV.
“This is my life,” he says.