Famous being a member of both Journey and Santana, the American rock singer-songwriter and keyboard player Gregg Rolie was born June 17 1947. Prior to Santana, Rolie played with a group called William Penn and his Pals while attending Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California, circa 1965. A year after graduating from high school in 1965, Rolie joined Carlos Santana and others to form the Santana Blues Band, which was later shortened simply to Santana. 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, As a co-founding member of Santana, Rolie was part of the band’s first wave of success, including an appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969 and central roles in several hit albums.
He is perhaps best known for being their original lead vocalist, with his voice appearing on well-known Santana songs such as “Black Magic Woman” (US #4), “Oye Como Va”, “No One To Depend On” and “Evil Ways”. He also became well known for his skill on the Hammond B3 organ, with solos on many of the aforementioned hits. He has song-writing credits on many tracks from this period. 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”.
However, persistent Musical differences between Carlos Santana and Rolie regarding the musical direction of the band Plus 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 with Rolie leaving in 1971. Growing resentments between Santana and Michael Carabello over lifestyle issues also 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 Rolie joined a new band with ex-Santana guitarist Neal Schon. This became Journey. Starring in a lineup that featured Schon, Aynsley Dunbar, George Tickner, and Ross Valory, he was keyboardist for the band’s first six albums. On Journey and Look into the Future, he was lead vocalist, and on Next he shared those duties with guitarist Neal Schon. After Steve Perry joined the band in 1977, Rolie sang co-lead vocals on several songs on the albums Infinity, Evolution, and Departure.
After leaving Journey in 1980, Rolie released several solo albums, including the eponymous Gregg Rolie in 1985. This album featured the song “I Wanna Go Back,” which later became a hit for Eddie Money, and included contributions from Carlos Santana, Peter Wolf, Neal Schon, and Craig Chaquico. A second solo effort, Gringo, was released in 1987. Rolie formed The Storm in 1991 with Steve Smith (replaced by Ron Wikso after the recording of the first album) and Ross Valory of Journey. Similar to his work with Journey and Steve Perry, Rolie played keyboards and was a co-lead vocalist on several tracks of the band’s first, eponymous, album, which hit #3 on the Billboard albums chart and spawned the Top Ten single “I’ve Got A Lot To Learn About Love.” Despite this success, their second album, recorded in 1993, was shelved, due to the industry’s shifting focus to favor rap and alternative music audiences. It finally saw limited release in 1996, and in 1998, Rolie and other former members of Santana, including Neal Schon, briefly reunited as Abraxas Pool, releasing one album.
When Schon left to lead a re-formed Journey later that year, Rolie and Ron Wikso began work in 1999, on a Gregg Rolie solo CD, titled “Roots”, which eventually led to the forming of the Gregg Rolie Band. Besides Rolie and Wikso, “Roots” featured appearances by Neal Schon, Alphonso Johnson, Dave Amato, Adrian Areas, Michael Carabello. The Gregg Rolie Band saw Kurt Griffey taking over guitar duties and the addition of Wally Minko as a second keyboardist. They recorded a live CD at Sturgis called “Rain Dance”, which was released in 2009. In 2010, Rolie released “Five Days” and subsequently formed a duo with Alan Haynes, which eventually led to the formation of the Gregg Rolie Quartet, with the addition of long time collaborator/drummer, Ron Wikso and bassist Evan “Sticky” Lopez.
In 2012–2014 he toured as a member of Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band performing Santana hits “Black Magic Woman”, “Evil Ways” and “Everybody’s Everything”. The band also included Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, Todd Rundgren, Richard Page, Mark Rivera and Gregg Bissonette. On February 2, 2013 Carlos Santana confirmed that he would reunite his classic lineup, most of whom played Woodstock with him in 1969. Santana said of Rolie, “I’m pretty sure Gregg’s going to do it.” Speaking in 2012 of such a reunion, Rolie told Radio.com “it’s just a matter of putting it together and going and doing it. I would do it. I think it’s a great idea. People would love it. It could be great!” In 2016, as part of Santana’s original line-up they released their fourth album, titled Santana IV.
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” featuring Chad Kroeger from the group Nickelback.
In 2007, Carlos 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.