Years: 1965 – present
Styles: Blues Rock, Hard Rock, Jazz Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Carlos Santana - Backing vocals, Bells, Cymbal, Finger Cymbals, Guitar, Lead guitar, Percussion, Rhythm guitar, Vocals, Wind chimes (in band: 1972 - present)
John McLaughlin - Guitar, Piano (in band: 1972 - 1973)
Turiya Alice Coltrane - Harp, Piano, Wurlitzer Organ (in band: 1974)
Carlos Santana is a Mexican and American musician who first became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which 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 such as timbalesand congas not generally heard in rock music. Santana continued to work in these forms over the following decades. He experienced a resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim in the late 1990s. In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 15 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He has won 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.
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 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.
In 1972, Carlos Santana 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 Aliasand organist Larry Young, both of whom had made appearances, along with McLaughlin, on Miles Davis' classic 1969 album "Bitches Brew".
A collaboration with John Coltrane's widow, Alice Coltrane, "Illuminations" (1974), 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.
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 requirements of the spiritual lifestyle which guru Sri Chinmoy and his followers demanded were in conflict, and imposed considerable stress upon Santana's lifestyle and marriage. He was becoming increasingly disillusioned with what he thought were the unreasonable rules that Chinmoy imposed on his life, and in particular with his refusal to allow Santana and Deborah to start a family. He felt too that his fame was being used to increase the guru's visibility. Santana and Deborah eventually ended their relationship with Chinmoy in 1982.
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 "Havana Moon" revisited Santana's early musical experiences in Tijuana with "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 life of rock and roll legend Ritchie Valens and starred Lou Diamond Phillips.
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, Frank Franklin, Living Colourguitarist 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 1987 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. They toured briefly and received much acclaim from the music press, who compared the effort with the era of "Caravanserai" (1972). Santana released another solo record, "Blues for Salvador" (1987), which won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
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". 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".
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, which starred many acts such as KISS, Queen and Rod Stewart. On July 8, 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" European tour. On July 10, 2009, he also appeared at Philip II Stadium in Skopje. With a 2.5-hour long concert and 20 000 people, Santana appeared for the first time in that region. "Supernatural Santana – A Trip through the Hits" was played at The Hard Rock hotel in Las Vegas, where it was played through 2011.
Santana, since 2007, has opened a chain of upscale Mexican restaurants called "Maria Maria". It is a combined effort 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.
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.
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