Corrections or additions?

This article by Richard J. Skelly was prepared for the June 11,

2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Carlos Santana: Forever Young

Like Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana keeps attracting younger

fans. Perhaps the 20-somethings in Santana’s audience are reacting

to all the non-melodic, beat-heavy junk that’s out there.

Whatever the reasons, Santana, who will turn 56 this July 20 and is

in his fourth decade entertaining, sold more than 25 million copies

of his recent album, "Supernatural." Released in 1999, the

album kept selling until 2001. Last year, Santana released


which teams the blues and Latin jazz-based guitarist up with an


bunch of accompanists, including urban contemporary stars Wyclef Jean,

Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Macy Gray, and others.

Santana is at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on Wednesday, June

18, and at the Tweeter Center in Camden on Tuesday, June 24.

To be sure, Santana is staying current, and he even includes a melodic

rap-oriented track on "Shaman," called "Since


with Melkie Jean and Governor Washington providing the rapping vocals.

While some might argue Santana is climbing on the shoulders of these

younger, more popular performers like Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 and

New Jersey’s own Lauryn Hill — where is she today? — both

of whom were showcased on "Supernatural," the reality is they

admire what he’s done. They’ve made it their business to stay in touch

with the San Francisco Bay area-based musician.

"Shaman," Santana’s 2002 release on Arista Records, features

platinum-selling artist Musiq on vocals on the second track,


At All," and the album opens with a song written by tour opener,

vocalist Angelique Kidjo’s "Adouma." "Sideways," a

song that showcases the vocals of Citizen Cope, is a bluesy number

that harkens back to the guitarist’s roots. While Santana’s roots

may be in the blues, soon after his career was launched, the


singer and songwriter seemed to be on a never-ending quest to expand

his musical boundaries.

Carlos Santana was born in 1947, in Autlan De Navarro, Mexico. His

father was a mariachi violinist. Young Carlos took up violin at age

five, but switched to guitar when he was eight. His family moved to

the border city of Tijuana, next door to sprawling San Diego, where

he began playing out in clubs and bars.

In the early ’60s, the family moved to San Francisco. Santana


from Mission High School in 1965. A year later, he formed the Santana

Blues Band, a name that was later shortened to Santana. Thanks to

the late, legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, the band debuted

at the Fillmore West in San Francisco on June 16, 1968.

In September, 1968, Santana played guitar at a concert held at


West by keyboardist Al Kooper, who had recorded with Bob Dylan on

his "Highway 61 Revisited" album. Santana made his recording

debut on "The Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper,"

later that year. A short time later, Santana was signed to Columbia

Records to record a self-titled debut. The group, by then known as

Santana, toured the U.S. prior to the album’s release, building a

"buzz" about the band and its guitarist, who played with the

speed and agility of Jimi Hendrix while playing in his own style,

which used fuzz tones, wah-wah pedals and other then-innovative


In August of 1969, Santana made waves and created an audience of


for their self-titled debut album when the band put on a riveting

show at the Woodstock Festival.

"Santana" was released that same month, and it became a huge

hit, as did follow-up albums, "Abraxas" and "Santana


By 1972 Santana’s original lineup went their separate ways, but Carlos

retained the rights to the group’s name. By June, 1972, he released

"Carlos Santana and Buddy Miles, Live," with the drummer and

singer. That album eventually became a platinum-selling release. After

releasing "Caravanserai" later that year, Carlos formed a

duo with jazz-rock guitarist John McLaughlin. The two shared a


leader with guru Sri Chinmoy, and their collaboration, "Love,

Devotion, Surrender" eventually surpassed gold-selling status

of 500,000 units. After releasing "Welcome," another project

with his now-changed Santana band, Carlos paired with John Coltrane’s

widow, Turiya Alice Coltrane, and recorded "Illuminations,"

released in September, 1974.

Santana continued to push himself in new musical


though most of his collaborating was with ever-changing members of

the Santana band. He released a series of gold and platinum-sellng

albums, including "Borboletta" in 1974, "Amigos" in

1975, "Festival" in 1976, "Moonflower" in 1977, and

"Inner Secrets" in 1978. After "Marathon" in 1979,

which also went gold, Santana went to work with acclaimed jazz


Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Ron Carter to record and release

"The Swing of Delight." That album was released in the summer

of 1980. Santana continued to record in the early 1980s, but most

notable was "Havana Moon," released in the spring of 1983,

his collaboration with country singer Willie Nelson, soul-blues


Booker T. Jones, and the blues rock group the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

"Havana Moon" made it into the Top 40 selling albums for that


In 1986 Santana took on his first film score, writing music for the

Ritchie Valens film biography, "La Bamba." He followed this

with another Santana band album, "Freedom" in 1987 and a solo

album, "Blues for Salvador" in the fall of that year. After

he recorded and released "Sprits Dancing in the Flesh" in

1990, he left his longtime label, Columbia Records, and signed with

Polydor, which allowed him the luxury of his own custom label, Guts

and Grace. Santana recorded and released "Milagro" in the

early 1990s but more important, his late 1994 release, "Santana

Brothers" featuring his brother Jorge and their nephew, Carlos

Hernandez, charted briefly and was nominated for a Grammy award that

year for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Throughout his recording and performing career, Santana has continued

to challenge himself as a musician. He learns all he can in the


of collaborating with others in traditional blues — such as John

Lee Hooker’s early 1990s release, "The Healer," which features

Santana’s blistering guitar riffs — traditional jazz, Latin jazz,

and Afro-Cuban jazz — and more recently urban contemporary hip-hop

and rap. With the 1999 release of "Supernatural," which won

Santana an incredible eight Grammy Awards, he was back on top. Like

any seasoned blues or jazz musician, Santana would tell you as he

gets older, he’s getting wiser — and better.

— Richard J. Skelly

Santana, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel,


$25 & $63. Wednesday, June 18, 7 p.m.

Santana, Tweeter Center, 1 Harbour Boulevard,


856-338-9000. $10 to $55.50. Tuesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m.

Carlos and Deborah Santana are donating the net proceeds from


Shaman Tour to benefit Artists for a New South Africa [ANSA] Amandla

AIDS Fund supporting South African organizations battling AIDS.

Previous Story Next Story

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments