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Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana is leader of Santana, a band whose music uniquely blends Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa and African rhythms.
Carlos Santana - Rising Star (1:51)
Carlos Santana and his bandmates played Woodstock having never recorded an album.
Carlos Santana formed the rock band Santana, and is still revered as one of the most talented guitarists to this day.
Bill Graham convinced Clive Davis, a Columbia Records executive, to sign Santana.
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Born on July 20, 1947, in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico, Carlos Santana moved to San Francisco in the early 1960s, where he formed the Santana Blues Band in 1966. The band, later simply known as Santana, signed a contract with Columbia Records. Throughout the 1970s and early '80s, Santana and his band released a string of successful albums. In 2009, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, Santana became a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.
Singer and guitarist Carlos Augusto Alves Santana was born on July 20, 1947, in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico. His father, Jose, was an accomplished professional violinist, and 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, Santana began performing in Tijuana strip clubs, inspired by the American rock & roll and blues music of artists like B.B. King, Ray Charles and Little Richard. In the early 1960s, Santana moved again with his family, this time to San Francisco, where his father hoped to find work.
In San Francisco, the young guitarist got the chance to see his idols, most notably King, perform live. He was also introduced to a variety of new musical influences, including jazz and international 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 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 (bassist and keyboard player, respectively).
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." The band's next two albums, Santana III (1971) and Caravanserai (1972), were also critical and popular successes.
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—and his psychedelic guitar riffs. In addition to his work with his band, Santana recorded and performed with a number of other musicians, notably drummer Buddy Miles, pianist Herbie Hancock and guitarist John McLaughlin.
Along with McLaughlin, Santana became a devoted follower of the spiritual guru Sri Chimnoy during the early 1970s.
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