In 1997, the band released its first studio album Buena Vista Social Club. The LP was very successful. In 2003, The Rolling Stones magazine put the album on its list of 500 Best Albums Of All Times. The LP was number 260.
In 1998, Buena Vista Social Club gave several concerts in Amsterdam and New York. The famous musicians performed at international festivals and attended TV shows. However, the artists didn’t always perform all together. Sometimes, they worked in pairs or trios. For example, Ferrer and Gonzales performed in Los Angeles in front of a star-studded audience, which included Alanis Morissette and Jennifer Lopez. It was nearly impossible to book Buena Vista Social Club due to their extremely busy schedule.
In 1999, a documentary Buena Vista Social Club came out. The film included interviews with band members and several music sessions, which were done in Havana. The documentary was nominated for an Oscar in 2002 and for the Best Documentary at European Film Awards.
The success of the album and the movie led to a huge international appeal to traditional Cuban music and Latin music as well. Some of the Cuban musicians from Buena Vista Social Club released solo albums, most of them were well-received and even re-recorded by other artists, including international music stars.
Even though six original band members have passed away, the group continues to tour the world and give live concerts. The remaining group members try to replace those, who can’t perform anymore. When the band gave a concert in London in 2007, one of the critics called it an “anomaly” because the lineup changed all the time and there has never been a sole leader.
Buena Vista Social Club is still very popular. The musicians tour the world and give live concerts, which are often sold out.