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Carlos Augusto Alves Santana (born July 20, 1947) is a Grammy Award-winning Mexican Latin rock musician and guitarist. He became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which created a highly successful blend of salsa, rock, blues, and jazz fusion. Their sound featured his melodic, blues based guitar lines set against Latin percussion such as timbales and congas. Santana continued to work in these forms over the following decades, and experienced a sudden resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim in the late 1990s. Rolling Stone also named Santana number 15 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.
Early life and career
Carlos Santana was born in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico, with two brothers and four sisters and a father who was a mariachi violinist. Carlos began playing the violin at five years of age, occasionally performing with his father's mariachi orchestra. When his family moved to Tijuana when he was nine, he became interested in the guitar, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and blues music and soon was performing in bands in the Tijuana area. When his family emmigrated to San Francisco, California, thirteen year old Carlos refused to leave, preferring his independence as a working musician. After being convinced to stay in San Francisco with his family, he graduated from Mission High School in 1965. Santana helped the family out by working as a dishwasher and grew to enjoy the San Francisco music scene, often sneaking into legendary music promoter Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium to listen to his favorite musical artists, including Muddy Waters, and The Grateful Dead. At the end of 1966, guitarist Tom Frazier wanted to form a new rock band. Frazier joined Santana (on guitar/vocals), Mike Carabello (on percussion), Rod Harper (on drums), Gus Rodriguez (on bass guitar), and Seattle native Gregg Rolie (on organ/vocals), to form the Santana Blues Band. Santana has maintained that it was he and Rolie who were the most serious about music and pursuing it further, while the others were only interested in hanging out and being part of the scene. Santana himself was not viewed by the group as the actual leader of the band that had his name. The group operated as a collective, as it would through the early 1970s. The name of the band was agreed upon due to a local musicians union requirement that there be a designated leader and a name. He met Stan 'Moon' Marcum who acted as the group's manager. After a while the group came to be known simply as 'Blues Band'. At this time it comprised Carlos Santana, Rolie, David Brown on bass guitar, Bob 'Doc' Livingston on drums, and Marcus Malone on percussion. Santana's recording debut occurred as a guest on The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. There has always been speculation about how the band picked up its Latin influence, since ironically neither Santana nor Gregg Rolie had any affinity for the style in the first place. It is known they hung out often at San Francisco's Aquatic Park where conga players would get together and jam. Also, around this time Santana was exposed to other types of music for the first time in this creative, musically fertile city. Bay Area jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo became a favorite of Santana and featured congas on his 1966 album, Spellbinder.
Santana to Caravanserai
Santana was signed to CBS Records, and went into the studio to record their first album. They were not satisfied with the results, and realized changes needed to be made. This resulted in the dismissal of Livingston. Santana replaced him with Mike Shreive, who had a strong background in both jazz and rock. Marcus Malone was forced to quit the band due to personal problems and the band re-enlisted Michael Carabello. Carabello brought with him percussionist José Chepito Areas, who was already well known in his country, Nicaragua, and with his skills and professional experience, was a major contributor to the band. Bill Graham, who had been a fan of the band from the start, convinced the promoters of the Woodstock Music and Art Festival to let them appear before their first album was even released. They were one of the surprises of the festival; their set was legendary, and later the exposure of their eleven-minute instrumental "Soul Sacrifice" in the Woodstock film and IJIIsoundtrack albums vastly increased Santana's popularity. Graham also gave the band some key advice to record the Willie Bobo song "Evil Ways", as he felt it would get them radio airplay. Their first album, simply titled Santana, became a huge hit, reaching number four on the U.S. album charts, and the catchy single "Evil Ways" reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1970, the group reached its early commercial peak with their second album, Abraxas, which reached number one on the album charts and went on to sell over four million copies. Instrumental in the production of the album was pianist Alberto Gianquinto, who advised the group to stay away from lengthy percussion jams and concentrate on tighter song structures. The innovative Santana musical blend made a number-four hit out of the English band Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman" and a number-thirteen hit out of salsa legend Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va". Carlos Santana, alongside the classic Santana lineup of their first two albums, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He performed "Black Magic Woman" with the writer of the song, Fleetwood Mac's founder Peter Green. Green was inducted the same night. However, Woodstock and the band's sudden success put pressure on the group, 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 established the band in the first place. Santana on the other hand, was growing musically beyond his love of blues & rock and wanted more jazzy, ethereal elements in the music which were influenced by his fascination with Miles Davis and John Coltrane, as well as his growing interest in spirituality and meditation. To further complicate matters, Chepito Areas was stricken with a near fatal brain hemorrhage, and Santana wanted the band to continue performing by finding a temporary replacement, (first Willie Bobo, then Coke Escovedo) while many in the band, especially Michael Carabello, felt it was wrong to perform publicly without Areas. Cliques formed and the band started to disintegrate. Teenage San Francisco Bay Area guitar prodigy, Neal Schon, was asked to join the band in 1971, though at the time he was also invited by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos. Choosing Santana, he joined in time to complete the third album, Santana 3. The band now boasted a powerful dual lead guitar act that gave the album a tougher sound. The sound of the band was also helped with the return of a recuperated Chepito Areas and the assistance of Coke Escovedo in the percussion section. Even further still was the support of popular Bay Area group Tower of Power's horn section, Luis Gasca of Malo, and a list of friends who helped with percussion and vocals, injecting more energy to the proceedings. Santana 3 was another success, reaching number one on the album charts, selling two million copies, and producing the hits "Everybody's Everything" and "No One to Depend On".
tension in the band continued. Along with musical differences, drug use
became a problem, and Santana was deeply worried it was affecting the
band's performance. Coke Escovedo encouraged Santana to take more
control of the band's musical direction, much to the dismay of some of
the others who thought that the band and its sound was a collective
effort. Also, financial irregularities were exposed while under the
management of Stan Marcum, whom Bill Graham criticized as being
incompetent. Growing resentments between Santana and Michael Carabello
over lifestyle issues resulted in his departure on bad terms. James
Mingo Lewis was hired at the last minute as a replacement at a concert
in New York City. David Brown later left due to substance abuse
problems. A South American tour was cut short in Lima, Peru due to
student protests against U.S. governmental policies and unruly fans.
The madness of the tour convinced Santana that changes needed to be
made in the band and in his life. In January 1972, Santana, Neal Schon
and Coke Escovedo joined former Band of Gypsies drummer Buddy Miles for
a live concert at Hawaii's Diamond Head Crater which was recorded for a
live album. The performance was erratic and uneven, but the album
managed to achieve gold record status on the weight of Santana's
popularity. In early 1972, Santana and the remaining members of the
band started working on their fourth album, Caravanserai. During the
studio sessions, Santana and Michael Shrieve brought in other
musicians: percussionists James Mingo Lewis and Latin-Jazz veteran,
Armando Peraza replacing Michael Carabello, and bassists Tom Rutley and
Doug Rauch replacing David Brown. Also assisting on keyboards were
Wendy Haas and Tom Coster. With the unsettling influx of new players in
the studio, Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon decided that it was time to
leave after the completion of the album, even though both made
spectacular contributions to the session. Rolie left and went home to
Seattle, opening a restaurant with his father, and later became a
founding member of Journey (which Schon would later join as well).
When Caravanserai did emerge in 1972, it marked a strong change in musical direction towards jazz fusion. The album received critical praise, but CBS executive Clive Davis warned Santana and the band that it would sabotage the band's position as a top forty act, even though over the years the album would achieve platinum status. The difficulties Santana and the band went through during this period were chronicled in Ben Fong-Torres' Rolling Stone cover story "The Resurrection of Carlos Santana". Around this time Santana met Deborah King, whom he later married in 1973. She is the daughter of the late blues singer and guitarist Saunders King. They have three children: Salvador, Stella and Angelica. Together with wife Deborah, Santana founded a nonprofit organization called "The Milagro Foundation" that provides financial aid for educational, medical and other needs.
In 1972 Santana became a huge fan of the pioneering fusion band The Mahavishnu Orchestra and its guitarist John McLaughlin. Aware of Santana's interest in meditation, McLaughlin introduced Santana and Deborah to his guru, Sri Chinmoy. Chinmoy later accepted them as disciples in 1973 and Santana was given the name "Devadip" - meaning "The lamp, light and eye of God." Santana and McLaughlin recorded an album together, Love, Devotion, Surrender with members of Santana and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, along with percussionist Don Alias and organist Larry Young, who both had made appearances on Miles Davis' classic Bitches Brew in 1969. In 1973 Santana, having obtained legal rights to the band's name, formed a new version of Santana, with Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas on percussion, Doug Rauch on bass, Michael Shrieve on drums, and Tom Coster and Richard Kermode on keyboards. Santana was later able to recruit jazz vocalist Leon Thomas for a tour of Japan, which was recorded for the live, sprawling, high energy fusion album Lotus. CBS records would not allow its release unless the material was condensed. Santana did not agree to those terms and the album was available in the US only as an expensive imported three-record set. The group later went into the studio and recorded "Welcome", which further reflected Santana's interests in jazz fusion and his commitment to the spiritual life of Sri Chinmoy.
Shifting styles in the 1970s
A collaboration with John Coltrane's widow, Alice Coltrane -
Illuminations followed. The album delved into avant-garde esoteric free
jazz, Eastern Indian and classical influences with other ex-Miles Davis
sidemen Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland. Soon after, Santana replaced
his band members again. This time Kermode, Thomas and Rauch departed
from the group and were replaced by vocalist Leon Patillo (later a
successful Contemporary Christian artist) and returning bassist David
Brown. He also recruited soprano saxophonist, Jules Broussard to the
line up. The band recorded one studio album Borboletta which was
released in 1974. Drummer Leon 'Ndugu' Chancler later joined the band
as a replacement for Michael Shrieve, who left to pursue a solo career.
By this time the Bill Graham's management company had assumed the
affairs of the group. Graham was critical of Santana's direction into
jazz and felt he needed to concentrate on getting Santana back into the
charts with the edgy, street-wise ethnic sound that had made them
famous. Santana himself was seeing that the group's direction was
alienating many fans. Although the albums and performances were given
good reviews by critics in jazz and fusion circles, sales had
plummeted. Santana along with Tom Coster, producer David Rubinson, and
Chancler formed yet another version of Santana, adding vocalist Greg
Walker. The 1976 album Amigos, which featured the songs "Dance, Sister,
Dance" and "Let It Shine", had a strong funk and Latin sound. The album
also received considerable airplay on FM album-oriented rock stations
with the instrumental "Europa (Earths Cry Heavens Smile)" and
re-introduced Santana back into the charts. Rolling Stone magazine ran
a second cover story on Santana entitled "Santana Comes Home". The
albums conceived through the late 1970s followed the same formula,
although with several lineup changes. Amidst the ever-revolving door of
personnel who came and left the band was percussionist Raul Rekow, who
joined in early 1977 and remains to this day. Most notable of the
band's commercial efforts of this era was a version of the 1960s
Zombies hit, "She's Not There" on the 1977 release, Moonflower. The
relative success of the band's albums in this era allowed Santana to
pursue a solo career funded by CBS. First, 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. The
pressures and temptations of being a high profile rock musician and
requisites of the spiritual lifestyle which guru Sri Chinmoy and his
followers demanded, were great sources of conflict to Santana's and his
marriage. He was becoming increasingly disillusioned with Chinmoy's
often unreasonable rules imposed on his life, one being his refusal to
allow Santana and Deborah to start a family. It became apparent later
on that Santana's fame was being used to increase the guru's
visibility. Santana and Deborah eventually ended their relationship
with Chinmoy in 1982.
More radio-oriented singles followed from Santana the band.
"Winning" in 1981 and "Hold On" ( a remake of Canadian artist Ian
Thomas's song) in 1982 both reached the top twenty. After his break
with Sri Chinmoy, Santana went into the studio to record another solo
album with Keith Olson and legendary R&B producer Jerry Wexler. The
1983 album 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 Richie Valens and starred Lou
Diamond Phillips. Although the band had concentrated on trying to
produce albums with commercial appeal during the 1980s, changing tastes
in popular culture began to reflect in the band's sagging record sales
of their latest effort Beyond Appearances. In 1985, Bill Graham had to
once again pull strings for Santana to convince principal Live Aid
concert organizer Bob Geldof to allow the band to appear at the
festival. The group's high energy performance proved why they were
still a top concert draw the world over despite their poor performance
on the charts. Personally, Santana retained a great deal of respect in
both jazz and rock circles, with Prince and guitarist Kirk Hammett of
Metallica citing him as an influence. The band Santana returned in 1986
with a new album Freedom. Buddy Miles, who was trying to revive his
music career after spending much of the late 1970s and early 1980s
incarcerated for drug charges, returned for lead vocals. His onstage
presence provided a dose of charisma to the show, but once again the
sales of the album fell flat.
Growing weary of trying to appease record company executives with formulaic hit records, Santana took great pleasure in jamming and making guest appearances with notables such as the jazz fusion group Weather Report, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, Blues legend John Lee Hooker, Aretha 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, who conceived one of Santana's famous 1960s drum jams, "Jingo". In 1988 Santana organized a reunion with past members from the Santana band for a series of concert dates. CBS records released a 20 year retrospective of the band's accomplishments with Viva Santana. That same year Santana formed an all-instrumental group featuring jazz legend Wayne Shorter on tenor and soprano sax. 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. They toured briefly and received much acclaim from the music press, who compared the effort with the era of Caravanserai. Santana released another solo record, Blues for Salvador, which won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In 1990, Santana left Columbia Records after twenty-two years and signed with Polygram. The following year, he 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 1992, Santana hired jam band Phish as his opening act. He remains close to the band today, especially to guitarist Trey Anastasio.
Return to commercial success
Santana's record sales in the 1990s were very low and towards the end of the decade he was without a contract. However Arista Records' Clive Davis, who had worked with Santana at Columbia, signed him and encouraged him to record a star-studded album with mostly younger artists. The result was 1999's Supernatural, which included collaborations with Everlast, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Cee-Lo, Maná, Dave Matthews and others. The lead single was "Smooth", a dynamic cha-cha stop-start number co-written and sung by Rob Thomas, and laced throughout with Santana's guitar fills and runs. The track's energy was immediately apparent on radio, and it was played on a wide variety of station formats. "Smooth" spent twelve weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming in the process the last #1 single of the 1990s. The music video set on a hot barrio street was also very popular. Supernatural reached number one on the US album charts and the follow-up single, "Maria Maria", featuring the R&B duo The Product G&B, also hit number one, spending ten weeks there in the spring of 2000. Supernatural eventually sold over 15 million copies in the United States, making it Santana's biggest sales success by far. 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. Santana's acceptance speeches described his feelings about music's place in one's spiritual existence. In 2001, Santana's guitar skills were featured in Michael Jackson's song "Whatever Happens", from the album Invincible.
In 2002, Santana released Shaman, revisiting the Supernatural format of guest artists including P.O.D. and Seal. Although the album was not the runaway success its predecessor had been, it produced two radio-friendly hits. "The Game of Love" featuring Michelle Branch, rose to number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent many weeks at the top of the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and "Why Don't You & I" written by and featuring Chad Kroeger from the group Nickelback (the original and a remix with Alex Band from the group The Calling were combined towards chart performance) which reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. "The Game of Love" went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. In August 2003, Santana was named fifteenth on Rolling Stone magazine's "List of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". In 2004, the magazine ranked him #90 on their list of the 100 Greatest Rock and Roll Artists of All Time. In 2005, Herbie Hancock approached Santana to collaborate on an album again using the Supernatural formula. Possibilities was released on August 30, 2005, featuring Carlos Santana and Angélique Kidjo on "Safiatou".
Santana's 2005 album All That I Am consisting primarily of collaborations with other artists; the first single, the peppy "I'm Feeling You", was again with Michelle Branch and The Wreckers. Other musicians joining the mix this time included Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Kirk Hammett from Metallica, hip-hop/reggae star Sean Paul and R&B singer Joss Stone. In April and May 2006 Santana toured Europe where he promoted his son Salvador Santana's band as his opening act. In 2007, Santana appeared, along with Sheila E. and Jose Feliciano, on Gloria Estefan's album 90 Millas, on the single "No Llores". He also teamed again with Chad Kroeger for the catchy single "Into the Night." 2007 proved to be a difficult year personally: On October 19, his wife of 34 years, Deborah, filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences".
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Official Homepage: www.santana.com
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