Santana , innovative rock group led by Latin-rock/jazz guitarist and bandleader, Carlos Santana; Carlos Santana, lead gtr., voc. (b. Autlan de Navarro, Mexico, July 20, 1947); Gregg Rolie, kybd., voc. (b. Seattle, Wash., June 17, 1947); David Brown, bs. (b. N.Y., Feb. 15, 1947); Mike Carabello, congas, pere. (b. San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 18, 1947); Jose “Chepito” Areas, timbales, perc.n; and Michael Shrieve, drm. (b. San Francisco, Calif., July 6, 1949). Later members included guitarist-vocalist Neal Schon (b. San Mateo, Calif., Feb. 27, 1954); lead vocalists Leon Patillo, Greg Walker, Alex Ligertwood, and Buddy Miles; percussionists Coke Escovedo, Armando Peraza (timbales), and Raul Rekow (conga); keyboardists Tom Coster and Chester Thompson; bassists Alphonso Johnson and Benny Reitveld; and drummers Leon “Ndugu” Chancier and Graham Lear. Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon departed in 1972 and formed Journey in 1973.
As one of the few unknown acts to appear at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, Santana electrified the crowd with a stunning extended performance of the band’s “Soul Sacrifice,” featuring one of the most famous drum solos in the history of rock by Michael Shrieve. Signed to Columbia Records, Santana’s debut album came out barely a month after Woodstock. It featured layers of exotic percussion and Carlos Santana’s passionate lead guitar playing (replete with his signature sustained-note style) and became an instant success, staying on the album charts for more than two years. The album included “Soul Sacrifice,” a minor hit version of Olatunji’s “Jingo,” and the near-smash hit “Evil Ways.” Abraxas, usually regarded as their finest work, yielded a smash hit with Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman” and a major hit with Tito Puente’s “Oye Corno Va,” while containing Carlos’s own “Samba Pa Ti.” For their third album, variously referred to as New Album and Santana III, the group added guitarist Neal Schon and percussionist Coke Escovedo. The album produced a major hit with “Everybody’s Everything” and a moderate hit with “No One to Depend On.”
Internal disputes within Santana had become rife in 1971, and the group disbanded for a time in 1972. In the meantime, Carlos Santana recorded a best- selling live album with powerhouse drummer-vocalist Buddy Miles from The Electric Flag. Santana formed a new edition of the group in the fall of 1972, by which time he had embraced the teachings of guru Sri Chinmoy and taken on the spiritual name “Devadip.” The new group’s lineup included holdovers Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Chepito Areas, and Michael Shrieve plus keyboardist Tom Coster and aging Latin percussionist Armando Peraza, among others. Shrieve had introduced Carlos Santana to the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and this aggregation recorded Santana’s first departure from Latin-style rock, Caravanserai, which revealed a decided jazz orientation. Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon subsequently departed to form Journey with bassist Ross Valory in 1973.
In 1973, Carlos Santana toured and recorded Love, Devotion, Surrender with guitarist “Mahavishnu” John McLaughlin, the man who had introduced him to the philosophy of Sri Chinmoy. Santana later recorded Illuminations with fellow devotee “Turiya” Alice Coltrane, the keyboard and harp-playing widow of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. The Santana group’s next album, Welcome, recorded with jazz vocalist Leon Thomas, continued to exhibit the group leader’s spiritual bent and jazz orientation. Yet another edition of the band, with vocalist Leon Patillo and drummers Michael Shrieve and Leon “Ndugu” Chancier (Shrieve’s subsequent replacement), recorded Borboletta. During 1975, Santana, rejoined by original bassist David Brown, toured the U.S. with Eric Clapton and, at mid-year, impresario Bill Graham became the group’s manager.
Eventually, in 1976, Santana returned to its Latin-style sound with the highly acclaimed Amigos album, which featured “Europa,” “Dance, Sister, Dance,” and “Gitaro.” The members included Tom Coster (utilizing synthesizer for the first time), vocalist Greg Walker, Armando Peraza, and Leon Chancier. Walker, Peraza, and Chancier left before the release of Festival, but Walker and Chepito Areas returned for the double-record set Moonflower, along with newcomers Raul Rekow (congas) and Graham Lear (drums). The live album yielded a major hit with a cover version of The Zombie’s “She’s Not There,” whereas Inner Secrets provided hits with cover versions of Buddy Holly’s “Well All Right” and The Classics IV’s “Stormy.” In 1979, Carlos Santana issued the mostly instrumental solo album Oneness: Silver Dreams-Golden Reality. Marathon featured new vocalist Alex Ligertwood and yielded a moderate hit with “You Know That I Love You.” By early 1980, Santana included Ligertwood, Armando Peraza, Graham Lear, and Raul Rekow, among others. During the year, Carlos Santana recorded The Swing of Delight with jazz musicians Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Ron Carter.
The group scored a major hit with Russ Ballard’s “Winning” and a minor hit with J. J. Cale’s “The Sensitive Kind” from Zebop!, the band’s last best-selling album. They managed their final major hit in 1982 with “Hold On” from Shango. Carlos next recorded the diverse solo album Havana Moon with Booker T. Jones, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Willie Nelson, who sang lead vocals on “They All Went to Mexico.” Santana began playing Nev. casinos in 1984, by which time the group included vocalists Greg Walker and Alex Ligert-wood, drummer Graham Lear, and later-day mainstays Chester Thompson (kybd.) and Alphonso Johnson (bs.). The group toured with Bob Dylan in 1985 and added Buddy Miles for the Freedom album and tour. After the Blues for Salvador album and tour, Carlos Santana toured the U.S. and Europe with jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter.
During 1988, Santana reunited with Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie, Chepito Areas, and Michael Shrieve, joined by Armando Peraza, Chester Thompson, and Alphonso Johnson, for a tour, but a promised reunion album was never recorded, and the veterans soon went their separate ways. In 1989, Carlos Santana formed his own record label, Guts and Grace Records. The Santana group recorded two more albums for Columbia before switching to Polydor Records in 1992. In 1993, they toured with Bob Dylan and recorded Sacred Fire, for which the group added Carlos’s guitar-playing brother Jorge, a veteran of the 1970s Latin rock group Maio (1972’s major hit “Suavecito”). In 1994, Santana performed at the Woodstock II Festival and Island Records issued The Santana Brothers, recorded by Carlos and Jorge Santana with their nephew Carlos Hernandez. Carlos Santana toured with Jeff Beck in 1995. In 1998, Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Mike Shrieve, Mike Carabello, and Chepito Areas reunited to record Abraxas Pool for Miramar Records, eventually released in 1997. Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Carlos Santana made a surprise “comeback” with his album Supernatural in 1999, featuring Santana accompanying various recent rock stars.
santana: Santana (1969); Abraxas (1970/1985); Santana III (1971); Caravanserai (1972); Welcome (1973); Borboletta (1974); Amigos (1976); Festival (1976); Moonflower (1977); Inner Secrets (1978); Marathon (1979); Zebop! (1981/1984); Shango (1982); Beyond Appearances (1985); Freedom (1987); Spirits Dancing in the Flesh (1990); Lotus (ree. 1973 in Japan; rel.1991); Milagro (1992); Sacred Fire: live in South America (1993). carlos santana and buddy miles: Live! (1972). carlos santana and john mclaughlin: Love, Devotion, Surrender (1973). devadip carlos santana and turiya alice coltrane: Illuminations (1974). carlos santana: Oneness/Silver Dreams—Golden Reality (1979); The Swing of Delight (1980); Havana Moon (1983); Blues for Salvador (1987); Supernatural (1999). the santana brothers: brothers (1994). abraxas pool (with gregg rolie, neal schon, michael shrieve, mike carabello, and chepito areas): Abraxas Pool (1997).