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I have made every attempt to write about Carlos Santana himself, but total separation from the Santana band involvement is nearly impossible. This cannot, therefore, represent a complete biography but leans towards the solo aspects of his career.

Carlos Santana has been hailed as the musician responsible for bridging the gap between Latin music and rock and roll. The result? A powerful Latin-flavoured rock sound that includes most of the elements of 12-bar blues, aggressive rock riffs and steamy Afro-Cuban rhythms. His guitar-sound is unmistakable and characterised by the sustained notes in his solos.

His formative years may help to explain the melange of musical styles that Carlos seamlessly merged. Carlos Santana's was born on July 20, 1947, in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico and at the age of five was introduced to music by his father. 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.Latin music and its percussive rhythms thus formed the backbone of all that he would play later on in life.

Carlos moved to Tijuana in 1955 and started studying the guitar, seeking inspiration from the sounds of blues artists like the great B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker. He moved to San Francisco in the early sixties, where he was introduced to its diverse cultural influences and musical styles. Rock and Roll was all the rage then, and added this flavour to Carlos' portfolio of influences. In 1966, he formed the Santana Blues Band with keyboard player and singer Gregg Rolie. Although Carlos was not musically the group leader, his name had to be used in the band’s name due to a musicians union requirement that a single person be named a band's leader. The name was shortened simply to Santana in time for their debut at his Fillmore West theater on June 16, 1968. Carlos’ biography from then on ties in rather strongly with the bands’ history, starting with their historic appearance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

Noteworthy Carlos Santana facts.


Discography includes Santana Albums. Several compilations exist, amongst which the more noteworthy include the 1974 Columbia Greatest hits double-disc and the 1995 Legacy box-set entitled Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent. The most recent compilation is the 1998 single-disc Best of Santana.
Born in 1947, in a small Mexican village named Autlan, Carlos Santana was destined to be a musician. His father, José, who was an expert mariachi violinist, had taught him the cultural music on the violin that still influences his unique style. In 1955, his family moved to Tijuana, and Carlos was introduced to the guitar, which quickly replaced the violin as his instrument of choice. By the age of eight, he was playing the music of B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, and John Lee Hooker.

It did not take long for Carlos to join local bands, which allowed him to develop his own style while playing popular rock 'n roll from the 50's. In 1960, Carlos's family moved to San Francisco leaving him behind. Although this was traumatic for him, it allowed his continuing musical development with local bands. A year later, Carlos moved north to San Francisco. Although his life had changed with this move, he still wanted to play music. He spent the next five years finishing the development of his style of music.

In 1966, Carlos created the Santana Blues Band, which, in two years, went from San Francisco's Fillmore West to their appearance at Woodstock in 1969. Carlos had finally unleashed his mix of rock, blues, and Afro-Cuban guitar onto the world, and the world received it happily.

Since then, Carlos has reached many achievements as an artist and as a person. Among his musical accomplishments are over 30 albums, a 1988 Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, a 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which Carlos himself thought would never happen), and on August 17, 1998, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Carlos has played in many different bands throughout the years, occasionally going solo or starting new groups. He has also teamed up with other successful musicians and given guest appearances on other people's album.

However, music is not the only reason Carlos has reached such a level of respect. His humanitarian accomplishments easily equal those of his musical career. Carlos has been involved in "Blues for Salvador," the San Francisco Earthquake relief, Tijuana orphans, and numerous other charitable events. Carlos, along with his wife, Deborah, founded the Milagro Foundation. The Milagro Foundation provides financial assistance for educational, medical, and housing needs of children throughout the world.

For his humanitarian efforts, Carlos has received plenty of recognition. In 1986, Carlos received the Commendation for Achievement & Support in California from Governor George Deukmejian. San Francisco declared June 6, 1987, Santana Day due to his commendable deeds. The list goes on.

Ever since he began his career as a musician, Carlos has always remembered where he originated. He feels that his Latin heritage is very important, and has long been an advocate of Spanish-Americans. He predicted that the negative feelings towards Hispanics would develop into a general acceptance of Latin culture in America.

Carlos is deeply devoted to religion and spirituality and became a born-again Christian with his wife around 1992. He believes that God will answer to those who need Him most, not the person who memorizes the Bible. Carlos holds ethics above all else and has been given much praise from his peers in the music industry. Eric Clapton called Carlos "the sweetest man I know." John Lee Hooker said, "He's one of the greatest men I've ever worked with, a perfect gentleman."

Carlos believes that compromising one's ethics for any reason is horrible. His feelings on ethics have caused him to turn down two different offers from President Clinton to play at different events, because he does not believe politicians are not honest. On the one of the occasions, he was invited by the request of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo. Although Carlos was honored, he once again turned it down, saying “I haven't seen him make progress toward civil rights for the Indians in Chiapas, and until he does, I can't feel oneness with him."

Carlos Santana is both an accomplished musician and a good human. He respects his fellow man, his Hispanic roots, and his ethics. His genre-breaking music took the industry by surprise and captured the minds of millions, and his humanitarian efforts have helped people across the world. Through music and his deep belief in God and spirituality, he has reached something most people can only dream of: happiness.

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