Rock, jazz, blues and salsa: the Santana sound. The Mexican-born guitar virtuoso who stormed Woodstock in 1969. He was making 'world music' for years before the term gained currency.
Born in Autlan, Mexico, Carlos Santana was influenced by the traditional music of his native country from a very early age. His unique fusion of Latin music and rock’n’roll eventually led to fourteen gold and nine platinum albums. As a child, Santana’s father, an accomplished mariachi violinist, instructed him in music.
In 1955, the family moved to the border town of Tijuana and Carlos took up the guitar. In 1961, Santana relocated to San Francisco to join his family who had gone ahead of him a year previously. There, Santana was immersed in an exciting climate of change - political, cultural, and artistic.
1966 saw the debut performance of the Santana Blues Band and such was the speed of their rise that by 1969, the band was playing at the legendary Woodstock festival. In the same year, their first album was released, entitled Santana. It went double platinum, but was exceeded by their next record, Abraxas, which went quadruple platinum during 1970.
Carlos Santana’s achievements are as varied as his musical influences. He wrote the score to the film La Bamba and in 1987 took part in the Rock’n’Roll Summit - the first ever joint US and Soviet rock concert.
Supernatural, a record which saw Santana collaborate with various artists including Matchbox Twenty, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean, was a huge commercial success for the artist. Released in 1999, Supernatural reached the number one slot in the Billboard Hot 100 and the record went on to be Santana’s biggest sales success, selling over 15 million copies in the United States alone.
The Santana Band was the first group to receive the CBS Records Crystal Globe Award for international album sales exceeding five million and in 2000 Santana collected eight Grammy awards, with the song Smooth winning both Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and the album Supernatural picking up the prize for Album of the Year.
In 2002, Santana released another album which featured guest artists including Seal. Although not as successful as Supernatural, the record hit the number five spot on the Billboard Hot 100. 2005 saw Santana join forces with Herbie Hancock to release Possibilities. The prolific artist released another album in 2005 entitled All That I Am, which featured collaborations with artists including Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Kirk Hammett of Metallica fame, hip-hop star Sean Paul and R&B artist Joss Stone.
Santana became one of only two bands (the other being the Rolling Stones) to make a top 10 album in every decade from the 1960s until the present when, in September 2010, he released Guitar Heaven. Santana's latest album is Shape Shifter, released in May 2012.