Carlos Santana — Black Magic Woman

Guitarist, Carlos Santana, was born in Mexico in 1947, the son of a mariachi violinist. At age 8, he was playing guitar, and was immersed in the styles of salsa, jazz and blues. By 1966, the nucleus of Santana took form in San Francisco, California, as the Santana Blues Band, playing Chicago style blues. (The keyboard player form this unit, Gregg Rolie, would later go on to form Journey). The personnel for the Santana Blues Band changed frequently through 1967 and 1968, all the while permitting Carlos to develop his unique guitar music.

1969 was the breakthrough year for Santana. The band’s name was shortened to Santana, and the band’s personnel stabilized into the group that would experience a great deal of success and critical acclaim. The band performed at Woodstock, which brought them worldwide exposure. The Woodstock album contains cuts of Santana’s performance on stage that feature Carlos’ guitar solo prowess. Later in 1969, Santana went on the record, ’Persuasion’ and ’Jingo’, which became part of the audition tapes for CBS to sign the band to a major record deal.

The first album was titled, «Santana», in 1969, followed by «Abraxas» in 1970, and «Santana III» in 1971. After the third album, Santana disbanded. The famous songs, «Black Magic Woman», and «Evil Ways» came from this period.

During the ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s, Carlos continued his stellar career and collaborated with many famous players, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.


An interesting fact about Santana is that Carlos never sings - he leaves the vocals to other members of the group or guest artists. He does however, delight his fans with monster guitar licks and intricate guitar leads. One need only examine the guitar tablature of one of his leads to see the musical challenges it presents to guitarists.

The longevity of his career is a testament to his skill and talent as a musician and organizer. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1999, after signing with Arista Records and Clive Davis - who had been president of Columbia Records during Santana’s heyday in the early 70’s - he released the album, «Supernatural,» which received eight Grammy Awards out of eleven nominations, reached number one on the Billboard charts, and was his top selling album of his career! Carlos followed up «Supernatural» with «Shaman» in 2002.

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