Joe Cayre is the billionaire real estate mogul who owns Midtown Miami. He’s a legend in the world of entertainment, and has made huge deals in music, movies, and video games. It all started for Joe Cayre in his hometown of Miami Beach. Before he founded Salsoul Records with his brothers Ken Cayre, and Stan Cayre, and before he did business with Henry Stone, he threw Cuban dance parties. Here’s what he had to say about Celia Cruz, Santería, and Henry Stone.
JacobKatel: First off congratulations on all your history in culture!
Joe Cayre: Thanks
What made you and your brothers Ken, and Stan start in on Latin music?
Joe Cayre: We’re from Miami and we’ve always loved Cuban music. We even went into a salsa label, Mericana Records that never had a big hit of any consequence, but I still love it.
I got into it because when I was 15 or 16 I used to bring in all the big Cuban singers to Dinner Key Auditorium. We did mixed dances on Saturday nights and made a lot of money. We were making like 5 grand every Saturday night. And this was like 1960. The artist were happy to come do the shows.
I tried to get Benny Moré, but I could never get him. But I did a couple of other big Cuban singers. We did promotion, but we never spent a dollar on the Herald. It all started with a love of the music. I loved to dance and I knew a lot of other people did too. I would rent that spot in Coral Gables, the Dinner Key Auditorium and we sold beer, and we sold those little sandwiches.
How did you first meet Henry Stone?
I met him at a party in Miami. I had a good Spanish label with great distribution. Tomas Fundora ran Cashbox Latin, and I went to a party there and met Henry Stone and saw James Brown and we were bullshittin’ and laughing and having fun. I said oh I’ve got this label and Henry had his Tone Latino label.
I had just recorded a Celia Cruz album in Mexico City. I was doing it for Morris Levy. He had a label I forgot the name of and asked me to do that for him. I flew there, he drove. That was for Tico Records. And boy was she something. I tried to get her to Jerry Masucci from Fania Records, and I think I convinced him. I loved her music, boy, she was great.
I went to all her concerts and her husband was her manager and band director. They were into Santeria. I remember there was a dead chicken nailed on someone’s door. They said, “Can you ask her what this is all about?” I said, “It’s all about you must be a real asshole.” That was in New York.
I was in Miami all the time. It was great. We just liked it, the Spanish record business.
What’d you think of working with Morris Levy?
Joe Cayre: Everybody told me he was a gangster, but he was real nice. He owned the Strawberry’s Record Store chain and Salsoul was distributed all over the U.S. and internationally.
Most of the Spanish record stores were owned by Cubans all over the country in New York, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco..they were the only big distributors of Latin music. I don’t know why. It was mostly Mexican music at that time.
Were there lots of drugs around in the 70’s?
Joe Cayre: I never touched any drugs…and everybody I was around was totally on every drug. Everybody. I had a good wife and good family values. I saw a movie in gradeschool at North Beach Elementary School. The movie showed a kid smoking a marijuana cigarette. Six months later it shows him dead in the street. That scared the shit out of me. I went to Nautilus Jr. High and Miami Beach High School.
To Be Continued..
Interview by ©Jacob Katel. Copyright ©Jacob Katel. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
From 1946 to 2014, Henry Stone ruled the Florida music industry with an iron fist, a brick of cash, and a warehouse full of vinyl. HSM is the last of over one hundred record labels he personally founded. This record label includes works from every decade in his sixty-five year career right up until today. Licensing available for film, samples, advertising, movies, video games, and more. Family owned and operated.