Carlos Santana All the world knows the special magic of Carlos Santana as expressed through his music and his guitar playing, which is among the most distinctive and recognizable in all music. His is a tone of vibrant energy that bathes the human soul and awakens the unconscious spirit. The spirit of truth, the spirit of Brotherhood. In every performance, Carlos shares with his audience a personal communication that crosses all boundaries and differences, and makes all people, one people, one family. Carlos’ music embodies a living heritage of music and family. The Brothers album (on Island Records), described as a banquet of musical treats and surprises, has Carlos sharing the spotlight with two special guitarists – brother, Jorge Santana, and nephew Carlos Hernandez in his recording debut.
In SACRED FIRE, a 97 minute video and 13-song CD released by Polydor in 1993, Carlos captured the excitement and spirit of his live concerts in Mexico and South America with a mix of his biggest hits as well as some previously unrecorded material. In LIVE FOREVER, the debut release on his Guts & Grace label, Carlos paid his respects to some contemporaries whose spirits continue to provide musical inspiration for us all. The CD includes songs by Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Coltrane. Each of these three projects offers a glimpse, an added dimension, of a soul that has touched millions around the world. Carlos was introduced to traditional music by his father, Jose.
An accomplished mariachi violinist and experienced musician, he taught Carlos the basics of music theory and gave him an understanding of the value of a note. Although Carlos’ excitement for music would be sparked by his first experience, he quickly discovered the limits of its traditional form and wanted more. Carlos wanted to play the kind of music that was filling the radio waves and making people dance. Tijuana, 1955. The music was rock ‘n roll.
The drastic change of moving from the small, quiet town of Autlan to the humming, thriving boom town of Tijuana brought a renewed hope and opportunity for a new life. Both for Carlos and his family. The eight-year old Carlos quickly left the violin for the guitar, studying and emulating the sounds of B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker. Soon he was being asked to join local bands like the T.J.’s, where he added a unique touch and feel to his own renditions of all the great songs of the 1950’s. As he continued to play with different bands along the busy Tijuana Strip, he not only started to perfect his style and sound, but actually started bringing home enough money to really help his family.
His future looked promising. In 1960, Carlos’ family moved to San Francisco while Carlos stayed in Tijuana for another year to make extra money until his family was settled. However, he soon found himself amid the multicultural atmosphere of San Francisco, with all of its diverse influences and musical styles. It was here that Carlos would find what he had been searching for, as if destiny had brought him to the right place at the right time. For the next five years, Carlos continued to evolve his own unique style of music that would later identify him as one of the most distinctive, innovative musicians of our time.
In 1966, the music of Carlos Santana exploded on the streets of San Francisco with the debut performance of the Santana Blues Band. For the next two years, the Santana Blues Band was catapulted by a wave of popularity that would take them from the stage of San Francisco’s Fillmore West, to that historical performance in 1969 before 500,000 at the Woodstock Festival in New York. Carlos Santana had arrived, and with him, an uncompromising spirit and dedication to his music that would affect and mark people’s lives for the next quarter century. Always changing, always searching, always growing–yet always consistently and clearly Carlos. Every new album–including 14 gold and 9 platinum albums–becoming a reflection of Carlos’ own personal growth and evolution.
From his platinum debut album, SANTANA, to his successful jazz-influenced solo projects, to his Polydor debut album, MILAGRO (which was an expression of Carlos’ belief in the healing power of miracles as well as a tribute honoring the memory of Bill Graham and Miles Davis), to the 1993 launch of his own record label, to the release of BROTHERS, Carlos has displayed an uncompromising faith in his personal musical vision. This faith has allowed him to venture into new musical and geographic territory, including scoring the feature film, La Bamba, embarking on a 1988 tour with jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and participating in the 1987 Rock ‘n Roll Summit, the first ever joint U.S.-Soviet rock concert in history. It has been brought to bear to the benefit of numerous worthy causes, such as Blues for Salvador, San Francisco Earthquake relief, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has earned him the love and respect of millions of fans around the world–a fact manifest in his many awards, including a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1988, six Bammies (including three Musician of the Year Awards, with the latest coming in 1993), being voted the best pop-rock guitarist for four years in a row in the Playboy Magazine’s reader’s poll and being the band to earn the first CBS Records Crystal Globe Award for selling 10 million albums or more. Today, with over 30 million albums sold and performances before an estimated 13 million people, the music of Carlos Santana continues to be an everlasting celebration of the human spirit and brotherhood. 1997 brought Carlos back go his musical recording roots when he signed a recording contract with ARISTA, whose CEO Clive Davis signed the first Santana Band lineup to Columbia in 1968. This exciting and creative venture will culminate in the release of music of a phenomenal quality and promises that fans and listeners will be able to experience and enjoy the melodic guitar playing of Carlos Santana for years to come.