Guitarist. Born July 20, 1947, in Autlan de Navarro
In San Francisco, the young guitarist got the chance to see his idols, most notably King, perform live. He was also introduced to a variety of new musical influences, including jazz and international folk music, and witnessed the growing hippie movement centered in San Francisco in the 1960s. After several years spent working as a dishwasher in a diner and playing for spare change on the streets, Santana decided to become a full-time musician; in 1966, he formed the Santana Blues Band, with fellow street musicians David Brown and Gregg Rolie (bassist and keyboard player, respectively).
With their highly original blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa, and African rhythms, the band (which quickly became known simply as Santana) gained an immediate following on the San Francisco club scene. The band's early success, capped off by a memorable performance at Woodstock in 1969, led to a recording contract with Columbia Records, then run by Clive Davis. Their first album, Santana (1969), spurred by a Top 10 single, 'Evil Ways,' went triple platinum, selling over four million copies and remaining on the Billboard chart for over two years. Abraxas, released in 1970, went platinum, scoring two more hit singles, 'Oye Como Va' and 'Black Magic Woman.' The band's next two albums, Santana III (1971) and Caravanserai (1972), were also critical and popular successes.
As the band's personnel changed frequently, Santana (the band) came to be associated almost exclusively with Santana himselfwho soon became the only remaining member of the original trioand his psychedelic guitar riffs. In addition to his work with his band, Santana recorded and performed with a number of other musicians, notably drummer Buddy Miles, pianist Herbie Hancock, and guitarist John McLaughlin. Along with McLaughlin, Santana became a devoted follower of the spiritual guru Sri Chimnoy during the early 1970s. Disillusioned with the heady, drug-addled world of 1970s rock music, Santana turned to Chimnoy's teachings of meditation and to a new kind of spiritually-oriented music, marked by a popular jazz album he recorded with McLaughlin, Love, Devotion, Surrender, in 1973.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Santana and his band released a string of successful albums in their unique style. Notable albums of this time period included Amigos (1976) and Zebop (1981). During the 1980s, he continued to tour and records both solo and with the band, but his popularity began to decrease with the commercial audience's dwindling interest in the jazz/rock blend. Nevertheless, Santana earned critical acclaim throughout the decade, winning his first Grammy Award, for Best Instrumental Performance, for the 1987 solo album Blues for Salvador. He toured extensively, playing in sold-out auditoriums and on tours like Live Aid (1985) and Amnesty International (1986).