Happy birthday Carlos Santana!



Carlos Santana (born July 20, 1947) is a Mexican-born American musician. He became popular during the 1960s after an explosively popular performance at Woodstock in 1969. He is a pioneer of the Latin jazz-rock genre. Some of his best known songs include "Oye Como Va," "Black Magic Woman," and "Smooth."


Santana was born in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico into a musical family. His father was a professional violinist and he learned to play the violin by the time he was five years old. By eight, he also played the guitar. In 1955, his family moved to the border town of Tijuana. There, Santana began performing in strip clubs. Five years later, the family moved to San Francisco, California.

Santana had been heavily influenced by American rock and jazz musicians including B. B. King, Ray Charles, and Little Richard. When he arrived in San Francisco, he got to see some of them perform. Throughout the 1960s, he saw the development of the American folk revival and the hippie movement as a street performer. In 1966, he quit his job as a dishwasher to become a musician full time, forming the Santana Blues Band with David Brown and Gregg Rolie.




The band quickly gained a loyal following around San Francisco clubs, with their unique blend of Latin-inspired rock, American jazz and blues, and African rhythms. In 1969, the band, by this time commonly known simply as "Santana," played the Woodstock Music and Art Festival just before the release of their debut album under Columbia Records. The single "Evil Ways" off of Santana (1969) became an instant classic, remaining on the Billboard chart for over two years. The album went triple platinum.


Santana's popularity continued to grow rapidly following their initial success. In 1970, they released the album Abraxas and it went platinum, boasting the hits "Oye Como Va" and "Black Magic Woman." The group again pleased critics and fans alike with the albums Santana III (1971) and Caravansera (1972).

The band came to have somewhat of a revolving door for musicians. At various times, members included Neal Schon, Willie Bobo, Coke Escovedo, Michael Carabello, and the Tower of Power's horn section including Luis Gasca of Malo. There were often tensions amongst members, and Santana eventually became the only original member to remain in the band.

Santana collaborated with many other notable musicians including drummer Buddy Miles, pianist Herbie Hancock, and guitarist John McLaughlin.


Santana's next albums also garnered substantial interest, despite the fact that the jazz-rock genre's popularity was dwindling by the 1980s. Santana won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance in his solo album Blues for Salvador (1987). By this point, Santana was a legend in the rock world. He played the Live Aid festival in 1985 and the Amnesty International festival in 1986.



The 1990s saw Santana lose some of his limelight as he became more spiritual and left Columbia Records. He released Milagro (1992) and Sacred Fire: Live in South America (1993) on Polydor and another record, Brothers (1994), under his own label, Guts and Grace. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental.

Santana regained popularity after signing popular artists Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews, and Wyclef Jean to appear on his 1999 album Supernatural. The album was hugely successful, winning Grammys in nine categories including Album of the Year (Supernatural), Record of the Year, and Song of the Year ("Smooth"). He followed up with collaborations with more prominent musicians.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards awarded Santana a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 20 July 2014
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