Miami Breakdown on MTV

Miami Breakdown was a song written by Suarez about the Liberty City Riots. Similar to the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, Arthur McDuffie was an African American who died at the hands of five white Miami-Dade police officers. McDuffie led the officers on a high-speed chase on his motorcycle because he was driving with a suspended license. After coming to a stop, McDuffie said, ” I give up”. The officers surrounded him, took his helmet off then proceeded to beat him with nightsticks and flashlights. He suffered multiple skull fractures. By the end the struggle the officers cracked his skull like an egg. The medical examiner said that he had suffered with worst brain damage he had seen in more than 3,600 autopsies. The officers were acquitted and all hell broke loose. It was one of the worst race riots in the U.S. The first day three people were killed and 23 injured, many in critical condition. Governor Bob Graham called on the National Guard, that only made things worse. The second day 12 more people were killed and 165 were injured as the violence spread. Eventually the riot ended but it left a devastating impression on all those living in Miami. Suarez wrote Miami Breakdown out of the frustration of living in a city that was on the brink, but powerless to do anything about it.
Maimi Breakdown was recorded as part of a six song demo at Sync Sound Studio in North Maimi. Since TOYZ had lost drummer Joby during those recording sessions they enlisted the help of Bruno from Z-CARS to play drums. After Toyz recorded their demo Helen Jacobson proposed the idea of making a video for the song but nothing ever transpired. Eventually Peter Spirer who was going to the University of Miami Film School proposed to his film class the idea of making Miami Breakdown into a Music Video. The class under Professor Ralph Clemente’s guidance accepted the project and filming commenced. The video opens up with Hanz being awakened by his mother, (played by Peter’s actual mother Dorothy) and seeing the rioting outside his bedroom. The video included various locations of Miami. The guitar solo of Suarez was filmed in Overtown, where much of the rioting took place. Another interesting story is that ZTOYZ were the first passengers on the newly created Miami Metrorail. Spirer arranged to film during the induction ceremony under the guise of making a PSA (public service announcement) that would get people to ride the Metrorail. At the induction ceremony The Mayor of Maimi was giving a speech below. But above as the Metrorail doors opened members of ZTOYZ exit and shout the anthem Maimi Breakdown. This was all too much for the Mayor’s communications director who pleaded for the band to stop because “Everyone can hear you downstairs and the Mayor is giving a speech!” The live performance at the end was filmed at a well known rock club the Button South in Hallandale. After finishing the video Spirer submitted it to MTV, which accepted the video for their Basement Tapes competition; a star search program for bands that provided their own music videos. By this point the band became ZTOYZ because of legal issues with the name. ZTOYZ competing against four other groups garnered 43% of the vote, (the next closest was 16%) winning the semifinals of the Basement Tapes. The band received rotation on MTV and five thousand dollars worth of Yamaha equipment. Months later the band would come in 2nd place in the finals of the Basement Tapes to a group called the Triplets. Just after their win the Triplets manager boasted that he rented a warehouse and installed banks of telephones that had the new speed dial feature. Down by 17% when the voting started, ZTOYZ narrowed the margin to 2% when the voting ended. Narrowly missing a record deal in the process.

Peter S

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