Carlos Santana: Latin Blues Guitarist

Written by on September 21, 2015

carlos santana

Carlos Santana and the Santana Band

Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana is leader of Santana, a band whose music uniquely blends Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa and African rhythms. Singer and guitarist Carlos Augusto Alves Santana was born on July 20, 1947, in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico. Carlos learned to play the guitar at age 8. In 1955, the family moved from Autlán de Navarro to Tijuana, the border city between Mexico and California.

As a teenager, Carlos Santana began performing in Tijuana strip clubs, inspired by the American rock & roll and blues music. After several years spent working as a dishwasher in a diner and playing for spare change on the streets, Santana decided to become a full-time musician. In 1966, he formed the Santana Blues Band, with fellow street musicians David Brown and Gregg Rolie. With their highly original blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa and African rhythms, the band—which quickly became known simply as Santana—gained an immediate following on the San Francisco club scene. The band’s early success, capped off by a memorable performance at Woodstock in 1969, led to a recording contract with Columbia Records, then run by Clive Davis.

Their first album, Santana (1969), spurred by a Top 10 single, “Evil Ways,” went triple platinum, selling more than 4 million copies and remaining on the Billboard chart for more than two years. Abraxas, released in 1970, went platinum, scoring two more hit singles, “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” As the band’s personnel changed frequently, Santana (the band) came to be associated almost exclusively with Santana himself—who soon became the only remaining member of the original trio.

Throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Santana and his band released a string of successful albums in their unique style. Santana left Columbia in 1991 and signed with Polydor, releasing Milagro (1992) and Sacred Fire: Live in South America (1993). Though he ended his association with Sri Chimnoy in 1982, he remained intensely spiritual, especially during his live performances. In 1994, he played at the commemorative concert at Woodstock, 25 years after his band’s transformative performance at the original festival. Under his own label, Guts and Grace, he released a collaborative album, Brothers (1994), with his brother and nephew that were nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental in 1994.

In 2009, Carlos Santana received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. He also debuted his own music review, Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits, that same year. Santana has continued to take his music on the road, playing numerous tour dates each year. In 2013, he became a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. Deep Jams Radio provides a live stream of Santana’s music as well as other great Blues and Jazz tunes. Tune into DeepJams.net Radio today!

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