Published Date: December 30th, 2006
Category: Entertainment

St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture by Scott Tribble

Led by virtuoso guitarist Carlos Santana (1947–), the band Santana has been one of the most successful mainstream ethnic fusion acts in rock history, topping the charts since the 1960s with its signature blend of Latin and African sounds. Carlos Santana grew up to the distinctive mariachi sounds of his native Tijuana, Mexico. As a teenager in the 1950s, he became fascinated by the rhythm and blues and rock and roll sounds he heard on the radio. Upon learning to play guitar, he fused these disparate traditions into an exciting and unique sound that would later become his trademark.

In the mid-1960s, Santana moved to San Francisco, where he and other local musicians formed the Santana Blues Band, later shortened to Santana. The group–featuring Santana (guitar), Gregg Rolie (vocals and keyboards), Dave Brown (bass), Mike Shrieve (drums), Armando Peraza (percussion and vocals), Mike Carabello (percussion), and Jose Areas (percussion)–first gained recognition in the same dance halls that hosted psychedelic rock groups of the era such as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Santana’s blend of Latin and African sounds was ill suited to the acid rock scene, but the group’s frenetic performances captivated hippie audiences across the Bay Area. Under the direction of concert promoter Bill Graham, Santana landed a spot at the Woodstock Festival in New York, where the band’s tour de force performance lodged Santana in the mainstream consciousness before the group had even recorded an album.

Santana released its first album, Evil Ways, in 1969. The title track from that debut effort reached the Top Ten–an unprecedented feat, given the song’s overt Latin sound. The group’s 1970 single “Black Magic Woman” enjoyed similar mass appeal and pushed the band’s second album, Abraxas, to the top of the charts where it remained for six weeks. Santana III, released in 1971, likewise topped the charts and established Santana as a major force in the recording industry.

The band underwent frequent personnel changes during the remainder of the decade. Carlos Santana brought drummer Buddy Miles and guitarist John McLaughlin into the fold, while original vocalist Gregg Rolie, along with newer member Neil Schon, departed to form the highly successful band Journey. Despite their internal flux, however, Santana continued to release such stellar albums as Amigos (1976) and Moonflower (1977), as well as hit singles such as the group’s 1977 cover of The Zombies’ “She’s Not There.”

Bibliography for ” Santana”

Scott Tribble “ Santana“. St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. 20020129. 19 Dec. 2006.

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