Santa Esmeralda is a U.S./French Disco group formed in the 1970s, which earned a number 1 club hit in 1977 with a cover version of the song "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". Leroy Gómez was born in Wareham, Massachusetts of Cape Verdean descent. Learning how to sing and play the saxophone, Gómez started his own band at 14, and later joined Tavares, a local group of brothers who shared his Cape Verdean heritage, and with whom he would go on to tour North America and Europe. In Paris, Elton John invited him to play sax on his classic album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Amidst this success, Gómez decided to leave Tavares and remain in Europe, getting work as a session player in Paris. There he met Nicolas Skorsky and Jean Manuel de Scarano, songwriters who had launched their own label with the aim of producing artists who would record their compositions. Santa Esmeralda was born of their collaboration, and the album Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, with Gómez on lead vocals, debuted on the independent French label, Fauves Puma. A sudden huge success in Europe, the record was picked up for worldwide distribution by Casablanca Records of Los Angeles, the preeminent label of the Disco era. Essentially a studio act, Gómez was eager to perform, and a touring group was put together including a troupe of dancers, one of whom, by the name of Tequila, would appear on several album and single cover photos and ultimately become his wife. Originally written in 1964 for Nina Simone, her understated version had failed to chart and the song was picked up by rock group The Animals the following year. The Animals gave "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" an urgent, classic rock edge and had a number 15 Hot 100 hit single. The essential nature of the song is Latin and Flamenco, which combined with that urgency lent itself to the disco sensibility in the 1970s. With strident overload of a wall of sound of guitars and horns in the interim riffs, the song became a hit all over again, first topping the U.S. Disco charts and then matching the number 15 peak of The Animals' version on the Hot 100. The album was certified Gold. The flip side of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", the love ballad You're My Everything (co-written by Gómez), became a radio request song and received much airplay, even though the song never charted.