Carlos Santana

BIOGRAPHY – Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana – real name Carlos Augusto Alves Santana – was born in Mexico, 1947; His father was a mariachi band violinist. Carlos learned the violin at the age of five and the guitar when he was eight years old. He was influenced by Ritchie Valens, who was one of the few Latino artists around at the time.

The family moved to San Francisco in the 1960s. After leaving school Carlos Santana worked as a dishwasher, busking in his spare time. He became a professional musician in 1965 and formed the “Santana Blues Band” with fellow buskers David Brown and Gregg Rolie. The band became successful on San Francisco’s nightclub scene and played a blinding set at Woodstock in 1969 – leading to a contract with Columbia records.??Changing the band’s name to “Santana” – the first album was released in 1970 titled “Santana” and was followed by “Abraxas” the following year. Santana’s Latin sound with strong percussion section and Carlos Santana’s lead guitar started attracting attention worldwide.

Santana continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s with several personnel changes and different experimental styles and a string of hits such as “Black Magic Woman”and Tito Puente classic “Oye Como vas”. Carlos Santana also experimented with different styles of music and collaborations – and developed a jazz fusion flavor to much of his work.

However, in 1990 Santana’s popularity was waning especially with album sales, although performances were still popular, Carlos Santana changed direction and record labels, signing to Polydor after 22 years with Columbia records.

In 1999, Carlos Santana was persuaded to record with some younger artists and the band experienced a massive resurgence. The single “Smooth”, recorded with Rob Thomas on vocals was a huge hit in 1999 and the album Supernatural bought Santana back to worldwide attention and a new audience. Carlos Santana won eight Grammy awards for the album supernatural and it was voted album of the year.

Carlos Santana has been voted 15th best guitarist in the world by Rolling Stone magazine. He certainly deserves it. His effortless style and complex solos coupled with Latin rhythms make him unique.

In the last decade Carlos Santana has worked on a number of projects with artists as diverse as Kirk Hammett for Metallica and Gloria Estefan and José Feliciano as well as his own work with Santana. In 2009, Carlos Santana was featured in “Guitar Hero (MK5)” where he is a playable character.