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Happy Birthday, Jaco Pastorius; Here's to Other National South Florida Legends

"There's hardly a bass player alive that doesn't owe gratitude to Jaco for how he changed the role of the bass. Moreover, Jaco left an indelible mark on the music world as an uncompromising artist and composer. The music Jaco created during his brief lifetime sounds just as fresh and urgent today as it ever did." Acclaimed bassist Gerald Veasley sums up Fort Lauderdale musician Jaco Pastorius' contributions succinctly. Widely recognized as one of the most talented and imaginative musicians to ever pick up a bass guitar, Pastorius left a legacy that still lingers some 25 years after his untimely passing. 


Fortunately, other talented artists that have emerged from South Florida achieved far happier results while gaining superstardom. Here are a few examples of some hometown heroes that took the national stage by storm.


John Francis (Jaco) Pastorius

Pastorius played with local revivalist rocker Wayne Cochran and his C.C. Riders, and later, the Peter Graves Orchestra, an ensemble that regularly backed up visiting national talent. He then joined Weather Report for a period before leaving them and forming his own big band (which he dubbed Word of Mouth). Things quickly began barreling downhill from there. His increasingly erratic behavior and ongoing flirtation with drugs and alcohol sidelined him for extended periods of time, and his ability to keep himself under control seemed less and less assured. A violent scuffle outside a local bar left him in a coma from which he never gained consciousness, and he died a short time later, on September 21, 1987. HBD and RIP. 


6. Harry Wayne Kasey 

Better known worldwide as K.C. of K.C. and the Sunshine Band, this Miami homeboy went from being a nondescript warehouse worker at TK Studios in Hialeah to taking the U.K. by storm, and eventually became one of the biggest names on the American pop charts. 

Radio listeners either loved or hated him, and indeed such noxious hits as "Get Down Tonight," "That's the Way (I Like It)," "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty," and "Please Don't Go" were constant staples throughout the '70s, helping to jumpstart the disco revolution. K.C. had his own problems with drug abuse and bad investments, but with the help of some wise counsel and the revival of his music through various film and TV scores, he came back to the fore and remains a popular attraction some 30 years later.


5. Betty Wright 

Another veteran of the TK Records stable, Wright scored a massive hit with "Clean Up Woman," a song that became a soul standard. A teenage wunderkind, she went on to become a successful entrepreneur, producer, talent scout, and record company owner aside for a superb singer. Although her career has had its ups and downs, she remains a role model for numerous up and coming soul singers, among them, British singer Joss Stone.


4. Gloria Estefan 

No artist has done more to pioneer the Latin-Pop crossover than the woman South Florida continues to call its own. Together with her husband Emilio, she's created a veritable music empire, one which helped nurture a number of other young, rising Latin artists. One of the best selling artists in the universe, she's accumulated worldwide sales of over 100 million albums, nearly a third of them sold in the U.S. alone. Among her numerous accolades, she claims three Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammys.


3. Enrique Iglesias  

Like father, like son. Enrique calls Miami home, but he has the world at his command. After embarking on his singing career in the 1990s, he became the biggest Spanish-language artist of that decade prior to beginning a crossover into the mainstream English language market shortly thereafter. Iglesias can claim ten number one songs on Billboard's dance charts, more than any other single male artist.


2. The Mavericks 

It seemed unlikely at best. That a Cuban-American kid infatuated with country music via the likes of Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins, would rise to fame. Regardless, singer Raul Malo and his band mates graduated to a major label deal with MCA and became one of the biggest bands on the country music circuit. The band split early in the millennium and Malo went on to solo stardom, but the band recently reunited and they promise a comeback album early in the new year.


1. Marilyn Manson 

The former Brian Hugh Warner became a shock rock icon with his early South Florida band the Spooky Kids. He gradually went on to become Marilyn Manson, one of the most controversial personalities in modern music. Given his unlikely success, suffice it to say he's become South Florida's best known weirdo (other than the naked causeway cannibal,of course).




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