The Mavericks: "We're Having So Much More Fun Than Ever Before"

In 1989, the year the Mavericks first convened, the divide between pop and country was still relatively wide. "Americana" was a term that hadn't entered the popular lexicon just yet, and Nashville was by and large still off-limits to any artist who arrived sans a cowboy hat and a good-ol'-boy attitude to boot.

Not surprisingly, then, the cultural expanse was larger still for the Mavericks -- a band from Miami, boasting a lead singer of Hispanic heritage. Their odds at achieving successes seemed slim. Still, the group's singer/songwriter/guitarist Raul Malo's obsession with American icons like Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Elvis Presley eventually prevailed, and within six months of the release of their eponymous debut on the small South Florida independent label Y&T, they landed a contract with MCA Records. Between 1991 and 2003, they landed 14 singles on the Billboard country charts and produced a string of successful albums, among them From Hell to Paradise, What a Crying Shame, Music for All Occasions, and Trampoline, each a showcase for their unlikely blend of country, Latin, and pop. They took the country-music world by storm and left an increasingly diverse musical landscape in their wake.

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Lee Zimmerman