Mexican and American musician Carlos Santana was born July 20, 1947 in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. He learned to play the violin at age five and the guitar at age eight under the tutelage of his father, a mariachi musician. His younger brother, Jorge Santana, would also become a professional guitarist. Young Carlos was heavily influenced by Ritchie Valens at a time when there were very few Latinos in American rock and pop music. The family moved from Autlán de Navarro to Tijuana, the city on Mexico’s border with California, and then San Francisco. Carlos stayed in Tijuana but later joined his family in San Francisco, graduating from James Lick Middle School, and in 1965 from Mission High School. Carlos was accepted at California State University, Northridge, and Humboldt State University, but chose not to attend college
Santana was influenced by popular artists of the 1950s such as B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, and John Lee Hooker. Soon after he began playing guitar, he joined local bands along the “Tijuana Strip” where he was able to begin adding his own unique touch to ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll. He was also introduced to a variety of new musical influences, including jazz and folk music, and witnessed the growing hippie movement centered in San Francisco in the 1960s. After several years spent working as a dishwasher in a diner and busking for spare change, Santana decided to become a full-time musician. In 1966 he gained prominence due to a series of accidental events, all happening on the same day. Santana was a frequent spectator at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West. During a Sunday matinee show, Paul Butterfield was slated to perform there but was unable to do so as a result of being intoxicated. Graham assembled an impromptu band of musicians he knew primarily through his connections with Butterfield’s band and with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but he had not yet chosen all the guitarists. Santana’s manager, Stan Marcum, immediately suggested to Graham that Santana join the impromptu band and Graham agreed. During the jam session, Santana’s guitar playing and solo gained the notice of both the audience and Graham. During the same year, Santana formed the Santana Blues Band, with fellow street musicians David Brown (bass guitar), Marcus Malone (percussion) and Gregg Rolie (lead vocals, Hammond Organ.
Santana, pioneered a fusion of rock and Latin American music. The band’s sound featured his melodic, blues-based guitar lines set against Latin and African rhythms featuring percussion instruments . With their highly original blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa and African rhythms, the band (which quickly adopted their frontman’s name, Santana) gained an immediate following on the San Francisco club circuit. The band’s early success, capped off by a memorable performance at Woodstock in 1969, led to him signing a recording contract with Columbia Records, then run by Clive Davis. During the recording of their first album The drummer Bob Livingston was replaced with Mike Shrieve, who had a strong background in both jazz and rock. Percussionist Marcus Malone quit the band due to involuntary manslaughter charges, and the band re-enlisted Michael Carabello. Carabello brought with him percussionist Jose Chepito Areas. Bill Graham, a Latin Music aficionado, had been a fan of the band from its inception, and arranged for them to appear at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival before their debut album was even released. their set became legendary and later the exposure of their eleven-minute instrumental “Soul Sacrifice” in the Woodstock film and soundtrack album vastly increased their popularity and, troduced them to an international audience and garnered critical acclaim. Their first album, Santana, was released in August 1969 and became a huge hit, containing the catchy single “Evil Ways”
Unfortunately The band’s sudden success caused tensions, highlighting the different musical directions in which Rolie and Santana were starting to go. Rolie, along with some of the other band members, wanted to emphasize a basic hard rock sound which had been a key component in establishing the band from the start. Santana, however, was increasingly interested in moving beyond his love of blues and rock and wanted more jazzy, ethereal elements in the music, which were influenced by his fascination with Gábor Szabó, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, and John Coltrane, as well as his growing interest in spirituality. At the same time, Chepito Areas was stricken with a near-fatal brain hemorrhage, however Michael Carabello, felt it was wrong to perform publicly without Areas. Cliques formed, and the band started to disintegrate.
A acclaimed live performance at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, was followed By the second album, Abraxas, in September 1970 which mixed rock, blues, jazz, salsa and other influences. Abraxas included two of Santana’s most enduring and well-known hits, “Oye Como Va”, and “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”. Teenage San Francisco Bay Area guitar prodigy Neal Schon was asked to join the band in 1971, in time to complete the third album, Santana III which contained the hits “Everybody’s Everything” and “No One to Depend On”.
Sadly Tension between members of the band continued, Along with musical differences, drug use became a problem Growing resentments between Santana and Michael Carabello over lifestyle issues resulted in his departure and James Mingo Lewis was hired, David Brown also left due to substance abuse problems.In January 1972, Santana, Schon, Escovedo, and Lewis joined former Band of Gypsys drummer, Buddy Miles, for a concert at Hawaii’s Diamond Head Crater, which was recorded for the album Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live!. Santana’s next album Caravanserai was. Released in 1972, and marked a change in musical direction towards jazz fusion. In 1972, Santana also became interested in the pioneering fusion band The Mahavishnu Orchestra and its guitarist, John McLaughlin. Aware of Santana’s interest in meditation, McLaughlin introduced Santana, and his wife Deborah, to his guru, Sri Chinmoy. Chinmoy accepted them as disciples in 1973. Santana was given the name Devadip, meaning “The lamp, light and eye of God”. Santana and McLaughlin recorded an album together, Love, Devotion, Surrender (1973) with members of Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, along with percussionist Don Alias and organist Larry Young, both of whom had made appearances, along with McLaughlin, on Miles Davis’ classic 1969 album Bitches Brew.
In 1973, After having obtained legal rights to the band’s name, Santana, formed a new version of the band with Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas on percussion, Doug Rauch on bass, Michael Shrieve on drums, and Tom Coster and Richard Kermode on keyboards and recruited jazz vocalist Leon Thomas for a tour in Japan in 1973, which was recorded for the live, sprawling, high-energy triple vinyl LP fusion album Lotus. In 1973 The group recorded Welcome which further reflected Santana’s interests in jazz fusion and his increasing commitment to the spiritual life of Sri Chinmoy. A collaboration with John Coltrane’s widow, Alice Coltrane, Illuminations (1974), followed. Featuring avant-garde esoteric free jazz, Eastern Indian and classical influences with other ex-Miles Davis sidemen Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland. This was followed by the album Borboletta, which was released in 1974. In 1976 Santana, along with Tom Coster, producer David Rubinson, and Chancler, formed yet another version of Santana, adding vocalist Greg Walker. The 1976 Santana released the “album Amigos, which featured the songs “Dance, Sister, Dance” and “Let It Shine”, and had a strong funk and Latin sound.
Santana also covered 1960s Zombies hit, “She’s Not There”, on the 1977 double album Moonflower. Santana also pursued a solo career with The albums Oneness: Silver Dreams – Golden Reality, in 1979 and The Swing of Delight in 1980, which featured some of his musical heroes: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams from Miles Davis’ legendary 1960s quintet. Santana released the single Winning” in 1981 (from Zebop) and “Hold On” (a remake of Canadian artist Ian Thomas’ song. 1983 album Havana Moon revisited Santana’s early musical experiences in Tijuana with Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” and the title cut, Chuck Berry’s “Havana Moon”. The album’s guests included Booker T. Jones, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Willie Nelson and even Santana’s father’s mariachi orchestra. Santana again paid tribute to his early rock roots by doing the film score to La Bamba, which was based on the tragically short life of rock and roll legend Ritchie Valens starring Lou Diamond Phillips. The next album Beyond Appearances was released in 1985 and Santana also appeared at the Live Aid concert and regained a great deal of respect in both jazz and rock circles, with Prince and guitarist Kirk Hammett of Metallica citing him as an influence.
Santana made many guest appearances with notables such as the jazz fusion group Weather Report, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, Blues legend John Lee Hooker, Frank Franklin, Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, and West African singer Salif Keita. He and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead later recorded and performed with Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji. In 1988 Santana organized a reunion with past members from the Santana band for a series of concert dates. d a 20-year retrospective of the band’s accomplishments was releasedwith Viva Santana! double CD compilation. That same year Santana formed an all-instrumental group featuring jazz legend Wayne Shorter on tenor and soprano saxophone. The group also included Patrice Rushen on keyboards, Alphonso Johnson on bass, Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas on percussion, and Leon “Ndugu” Chancler on drums. In 1991 Santana made a guest appearance on Ottmar Liebert’s album, Solo Para Ti on the songs “Reaching out 2 U” and on a cover of his own song, “Samba Pa Ti”. In 1990Santana released a new album Spirits Dancing in the Flesh. This was followed by Milagro in 1992, a live album Sacred Fire in 1993 and Brothers (a collaboration with his brother Jorge and nephew Carlos Hernandez) in 1994. In 1999 he recorded the star-studded album . Supernatural, which included collaborations with Everlast, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Cee Lo Green, Maná, Dave Matthews, K. C. Porter, J. B. Eckl, and others. Featuring the songs “Smooth”, a dynamic cha-cha stop-start number co-written and sung by Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty and, “Maria Maria.
In 1998 Carlos Santana, alongside the classic Santana lineup of their first two albums, was inducted as an individual, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He performed “Black Magic Woman” with the writer of the song, Fleetwood Mac’s founder Peter Green. Green was inducted the same night. In 2000, Supernatural won nine Grammy Awards (eight for Santana personally), including Album of the Year, Record of the Year for “Smooth”, and Song of the Year for Thomas and Itaal Shur. Later at the Latin Grammy Awards he won three awards including Record of the Year. In 2002, Santana released Shaman, featuring guest artists including Citizen Cope, P.O.D. and Seal and featuring the songs . “The Game of Love” featuring Michelle Branch and “Why Don’t You & I” written by and featuring Chad Kroeger from the group Nickelback. In 2005, Herbie Hancock collaborated with Santana on the album “Possibilities ” featuring Carlos Santana and Angélique Kidjo on “Safiatou”. Also, in 2005, fellow Latin star Shakira invited Santana to play the soft rock guitar ballad “Illegal” on her second English-language studio album Oral Fixation Vol. 2. Santana’s 2005 album “All That I Am” featured collaborations with other artists including Michelle Branch and The Wreckers, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Kirk Hammett from Metallica, hip-hop artist/songwriter/producer will.i.am and guitarist/songwriter/producer George Pajon, hip-hop/reggae star Sean Paul and R&B singer Joss Stone. In 2007, Santana appeared, along with Sheila E. and José Feliciano, on Gloria Estefan’s album 90 Millas, on the single “No Llores”. He also teamed again with Chad Kroeger for the hit single “Into the Night”. He also played guitar in Eros Ramazzotti’s hit “Fuoco nel fuoco” from the album e².Carlos Santana performed at the 2009 American Idol Finale with the top 13 finalists, in 2009, Carlos Santana appeared at the Athens Olympic Stadium in Athens with his 10-member all-star band as part of his “Supernatural Santana – A Trip through the Hits”
In 2007, Santana opened a chain of Mexican restaurants called “Maria Maria” with Chef Roberto Santibañez. They are located in Tempe, Arizona; Mill Valley (now closed), Walnut Creek, Danville and San Diego; Austin, Texas; and Boca Raton, Florida. In 2012, Santana released an album Shape Shifter consisting of mostly instrumental tracks. In 2014, Santana released his first ever Spanish language album Corazón and On September 12, 2015 Carlos Santana appeared as a member of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s band Phil Lesh & Friends at the third annual Lockn’ Music Festival. In 2003, Santana was named fifteenth on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.In 2005, Santana was honored as a BMI Icon at the 12th annual BMI Latin Awards. Santana was the first songwriter designated a BMI Icon at the company’s Latin Awards. In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 20 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He has won 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.