“Everybody gets wet when it rains, from the prostitutes to the pope. My music strives to communicate that message of unity.” Carlos Santana
Mexican-born Latin music legend Carlos Santana gives deep influence to a wide segment of listeners through the album Supernatural (1999), which presented the Grammy-winning collaborative track “Smooth” (featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20) and “Maria Maria” (featuring The Product G & B). Standing proud with nine Grammy Awards, Santana then continued his collaboration with his 2002 album Shaman, the 2005 recording All That I Am, and the recent release “Cry Baby Cry” (2006).
Initially amazing both listeners and critics with the self-titled debut album in 1969, Santana and the Santana Blues Band (later famous as the Santana band) was praised for their sophomore recording Abraxas (1970), which spawned such renowned tracks as “Black Magic Woman,” “Samba Pa Ti” and “Oye Como Va.” The band, however, did not fare as well with the album Beyond Appearances (1985), Spirits Dancing in the Flesh (1990) and Milagro (1992). Aside from his work with the band, Santana also made some solo projects, including the album Blues for Salvador (1987), whose titular song won him a Grammy Award.
The recipient of a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star (1998), Carlos Santana founded the Milagro Foundation to give financial aid for educational, medical and other needs for children. He also performed in the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo and some charitable concerts, like Nicaragua and San Francisco Earthquake Relief, Tijuana Orphans, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and education for Latin youth, in association with the Hispanic Media & Education Group. For his musical and social efforts, the musician has been given numerous awards, from the local San Francisco governance up to the Golden Gate Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. As for his married life, the artist is the husband of Deborah King, with whom he has three children.
Childhood and Family:
Carlos Augusto Alves Santana, later famous as Carlos Santana, was born on July 20, 1947 in the Mexican village of Autlan de Navarro. His father, mariachi violinist José Santana, was his first tutor in music. He and his family once moved to Tijuana before finally settling down in the United States, in San Francisco.
At age five, Carlos began playing violin, and then switched to guitar three years afterwards. He later played in clubs and bars with his father’s mariachi orchestra while in Tijuana. While in San Francisco, he attended the Mission High School and briefly worked as a dishwasher. Having a deep passion in music, he decided to form the Santana Blues Band.
In 1972, Carlos met Deborah King, the daughter of the late blues singer and guitarist Saunders King. Carlos and Deborah got married the following year, and now they have three children: Salvador, Stella and Angelica.
Greatly influenced by such rock, blues and jazz musicians as Muddy Waters and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Carlos Santana made a rock band in 1966 named the Santana Blues Band, which later was abbreviated into the Santana band. In the course of their music journey, Carlos Santana changed his band’s personnel quite often.
Santana and his band debuted at the Fillmore West theater in San Francisco on June 16, 1968. The same year, Santana became a guest guitarist for artists Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper in their live performance at the Fillmore West, and recorded it in the album The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (1968).
Santana, who soon was signed to Columbia Records, performed at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival with the band and surprised many with their remarkable 11-minute instrumental “Soul Sacrifice.” As a result, the band’s debut album Santana (1969) received enthusiastic response, earning double platinum certification and reaching No.4 on the US Album charts. Its lead single, “Evil Ways” became a triple platinum Top 10 single that perched on the Billboard chart for over two years.
Abraxas (1970), the rock band’s sophomore recording, fared even much better by selling over four million copies and topping the album charts. The 5x platinum album also gave rise to the legendary songs “Black Magic Woman,” “Samba Pa Ti” and “Oye Como Va.” After having some cliques in the band, Santana moved on with another double platinum album, Santana 3 (1971), which spawned hit singles “Everybody’s Everything” and “No One to Depend On.” In January 1972, Santana and several band members joined ex-drummer of Band of Gypsies, Buddy Miles, for a live concert at Hawaii’s Diamond Head Crater that was recorded for a live album titled Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live (1972), which went gold.
Also in 1972, the Santana band released the album Caravanserai that featured mostly instrumental tracks, marking a strong change in their musical tendency towards jazz-fusion. Consequently, the recording did not produce any hit single. Caravanserai also denote the slide of Carlos Santana’s musical career and life.
Meeting guitarist John McLaughlin of the fusion band The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Santana went to a more spiritual life by joining meditation guru Sri Chinmoy. He and McLaughlin then released the reflective album Love Devotion Surrender in 1973. It was followed by the Santana band’s gold album Welcome (1973) and his collaboration with Alice Coltrane in Illuminations (1974).
Following the release of concert album Lotus in 1975, the rock band returned to more listener-friendly sounds with the album Amigos (1976), setting off the singles “Let It Shine” and “Dance, Sister, Dance.” Despite the constant personnel changes, the prolific band tossed out Festival (1977), the 2x platinum Moonflower (1977, won a Bammy for Best Album), Inner Secrets (1978) and Marathon (1979). The Santana band, which was named the Latin Rock Band of the Year from the Latin New York Music in 1975, was awarded with CBS’ Crystal Globe award for selling over 5 millions worldwide in 1977.
With his band’s recovered fame and two Bammys for Best Guitarist in his hands, Santana made some solo projects and issued Oneness: Silver Dreams, Golden Reality (1979) and The Swing of Delight (1980), both of which featured his collaboration with the members of Miles Davis’ quintet: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Subsequent to his separation with the spiritual guru, the musician created radio-friendly singles with his band, including “Winning” from the platinum album Zebop (1981) and “Hold On” from Shango (1982).
The 1978 Bammy’s Musician of the Year, Santana continued his solo attempt with Havana Moon (1983), in which he worked together with Booker T. Jones, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Willie Nelson and his father’s mariachi orchestra. During that time, the guitarist also became two-time Bammy’s Best Guitarist, two-time Playboy’s Reader Music Poll’s Number 1 Pop/Rock Guitarist and the recipient of National Hispanic Heritage Week Outstanding Leadership award (1986). Since then, Santana has received numerous awards for his musical and social impact.
However, Santana fell flat on the charts after releasing his band’s albums Beyond Appearances (1985) and Freedom (1987). He then preferred jamming with many notable musicians, including fusion group Weather Report, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner and Aretha Franklin, as well as touring with an all-instrumental group. Additionally, the Mexican guitarist issued the blues-rock solo recording Blues for Salvador (1987), whose title track won him a first Grammy.
Soon after finishing Spirits Dancing in the Flesh (1990), the Santana band moved to Polydor Records and recorded the flopped album Milagro (1992). Outside the group, Santana teamed up with his brother Jorge Santana (guitar) in his live concert (recorded in the gold album Sacred Fire: Live in South America, 1993), as well as in the indie album Santana Brothers (1994, reached 191 on the Billboard 200 album chart), under the label of Guts and Grace.
Eventually, after several disappointments with the sales, the Santana band issued a smart, flourishing star-studded album featuring relatively younger artists, titled Supernatural (1999). Its first single “Smooth” (co-written and sung by Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20) had a big time on radio and contributed three Grammies for the album, whereas the Bobby Martin-written “Maria Maria” (featuring The Product G & B) ruled the Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten whole weeks and added another Grammy to the list. The 15x platinum album, also offering Santana’s collaboration with Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Maná and Dave Matthews, ended up harvesting nine Grammies, eight of which went to Carlos Santana personally.
Recapturing the sweet moment, Santana and the band released Shaman (2002) that presented the same format of guest artists, inviting P.O.D., Seal, and other musicians to work on the album. The platinum album set off the international track “The Game of Love” (featuring Michelle Branch), a Grammy-winning song that reached the 5th spot of the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for many weeks. Shaman also offered the 8th Billboard Hot 100 hit “Why Don’t You and I,” which featured Chad Kroeger from Nickelback in its original version, and Alex Band from The Calling in its remixed version.
Following his appearance with Angélique Kidjo in Herbie Hancock’s single “Safiatou,” Santana rejoined the band to work on the album All That I Am (2005). Still focusing on the collaboration concept, the recording made impact on radio through “I’m Feeling You” (featuring Michelle Branch and The Wreckers), and was then certified gold. After working with Colombian singer Shakira in “Illegal” (2005), the guitarist recently teamed up with young musicians Sean Paul and Joss Stone for the single “Cry Baby Cry,” which was released in May 2006.