Five Questions With the Legendary Coke's Joe Rubio; Reunion Show This Saturday

Categories: Local Music, Q&A
Coke-Flyer1.jpg
Open House = GOOD TIMES!
​In the early '70s a group of Hispanic youngsters created an album that has over the years achieved legendary status. In the true sense, they were pioneers of what we off-handedly refer to as the "Miami Sound." Owing more to TK Records, funk and salsa than anything else, with a youthful dose of unbridled rock and roll energy, Coke's meteoric rise was cut short when they ran afoul of the gloriously paranoid Coca-Cola Company. 

This coming Saturday will bear witness to a reunion gig thirty-plus years in the making. We recently had a chance to catch up with keyboardist Joe "Tito" Rubio to play the Crossfade game of five questions.

Crossfade: What have you and other members of Coke been up to these years?

Joe Rubio: The Original members participating in the Coke reunion are as follows:
Myself, Joe "Tito" Rubio (keyboards, lead vocals and musical director), am a retired Miami Police Lieutenant and run a business, Joe Rubio Polygraphs and am also currently appearing on Telefutura's hit court TV show, Veredicto Final with retired County Court Judge, the Honorable Cristina Pereyra. 

I've also appeared on other Spanish-language TV shows like Sabado Gigante, Escándalo TV, and El Gordo Y la Flaca as an expert polygraph examiner. Other than Coke, I've maintained my musical career having played with local band Playback who were the opening act for Jefferson Starship and with my own band, Harmony, performing at private and corporate functions.

coke flyer.jpg
​Drummer Ruben Perez is a retired Miami-Dade Corrections Sergeant. He spent the last 30 years as a corrections officer with the last ten involved with the Miami-Dade County Narcotics Unit with his faithful dog Sandy. Ruben and Sandy were instrumental in the Miami-Dade County Police and Corrections fight against drug smuggling in Dade County.


Lead singer Frank Batista, who joined Coke in October of 1973, several months after the album was released was also the voice behind the Coke and Opus hits, as well as Beware and Marta. Frank is a renowned local psychologist with his own practice in the City of Coral Gables. Frank has maintained his musical career and recently released a CD named Blast From the Past.

And Saxophonist Chester Rosas-Guyon came into the Coke family in early 1974 replacing our trumpet player Cesar Godinez. Chester runs a construction business in Dade County.

How was your experience as a police officer with the City of Miami? How did your superiors feel about you being a musician as well?

While in the Police Department, I was involved with the City of Miami Police Choir, which performed at local city, as well as state functions and charity events. The City of Miami Police Department and its staff were extremely supportive and encouraged my music involvement.

If the gloriously paranoid Coca-Cola Corporation had not intervened in the fate of the band, where do think Coke would have gone?

Prior to the Coca-Cola Cease & Desist Attorney Letter, the Coke album was number five on the Billboard Charts and the band was contacted by the largest record company at the time in Mexico, Mozart Records, to sign the band to a mega recording contract and move the Coke Band to Mexico City and start work on a new Album. The rest is history.

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Coke/Opus

How do you feel about the music scene in South Florida in comparison with the scene back in the Coke days?

I believe that the music scene in South Florida has become stale in the sense that very few local bands would now have the opportunity of landing record deals or have their work played at local radio stations like we had back in the day. [Back then] a band like Coke [could have] a local radio personality Omar Marchant agreeing to play the song "Sabor a Mi" on his show (WFAB AM) with the current City of Miami Mayor, the Honorable Tomas Regalado on the controls. 

Now the local music scene is controlled by several local promoters that would rather bring up and promote outsiders instead of homegrown talent, and radio stations would not play your songs unless you are backed by the big record companies, local heavyweight promoters, or lots and lots of money. As I previously discussed with childhood friend and superstar rock bassist, Rudy Sarzo (of White Snake and Dio), that to make it big in music you have to leave Miami.

I think that it's great that this reunion is happening, any possibility of new Coke recordings? More live shows?

Coke will definitively have more live shows now that this "Open House" event has been such a huge success. Coke is currently in the planning stages with their representative Tony Pedraja, president of Stone Promotions, for another Mega Open House to be held November 20 (venue yet to be announced) with another well known band from the '70s, the Queens Kids.

Coke and Mr. Tony Pedraja are currently in discussion regarding Coke recording some Latin rock original material in the near future. Coke's theme now is to provide their fans with the great music played back in the Open House Days of the early '70s and have them relive their youth.

Graphics courtesy of DJ Alex Gutierrez.

Coke, with Mantrap.8 p.m. Saturday, August 13. Elk's Lodge, 10301 SW 72nd St., Miami. Admission is $15, all ages. 305-270-8184; miamielks948.org


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