Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana

(1947-)

The man who was the creative inspiration behind the style of music known as Latin rock was born in Autlan de Navarro, a small village in the Mexican state of Jalisco. All of the men in Carlos Santanas family, going back to his great-grandfather, were musicians. His father played in a mariachi band.

He taught his son Carlos the basic theories of music and how to play traditional violin.Santana was more interested in rock ’n’ roll, and at the age of eight, he took up the guitar. When Santana was eleven, his family moved to the Mexican border city of Tijuana, and he began playing in nightclubs there.

Santanas family moved to California when he was a teenager, and he attended high school in San Francisco. He learned English and dis¬ covered the various musical styles that were thriving in the area at the time. He then formed his own group, the Santana Blues Band, which he later shortened to Santana.

Within a few years, the group was playing at well-known local clubs. Ted by Carlos’s blister¬ ing yet soulful sound on guitar, they began to make their mark with a unique blend of Afro- Cuban, rock n’ roll, and blues styles. The new sound came to be known as Latin rock.

In 1969, Santana performed before a half million people at the famous Woodstock music festival in upstate New York. The event exposed the band to a national audi¬ ence and propelled them to stardom. They earned their first record contract, which led to a string of hit records.

Between 1969 and 1981, the group record¬ ed several albums, all of which reached gold (a half million sales) or platinum (a million sales) status. Some of the group’s most endur¬ ing hit songs are “Soul Sacrifice,” “Evil Ways,” “Oye Como Va,” and “Black Magic Woman.”

During the 1980s, after changes in the group’s personnel, Santana recorded fewer albums but continued to perform for sold- out audiences around the world. By the 1990s, however, Santana’s name had faded from the top ranks of the recording indus¬ try. While the group was still revered for its classic hits from the 1970s, it was not con¬ sidered relevant to younger audiences.

Then, in 1999, Carlos Santana made a huge comeback as a recording artist when he collaborated with several top-selling artists on the enormously popular album Supernatural. The recording reached number one on the Billboard chart and produced a number-one single, “Smooth.” It won a total of eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. As the twen¬ ty-first century dawned, Carlos Santana had reemerged as a top recording artist and performer.