Today is guitarist extraordinaire Carlos Santana’s birthday. Subhadra Devan marks his 65 years with a retrospective look at his long and fruitful career
1. Woodstock 1969
Carlos Santana gained a worldwide following after he and his band performed at Woodstock in 1969. That and the band’s music — an original blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa and African rhythms — led to a Columbia Records contract. The self-titled album gave us a Top 10 single, Evil Ways. Santana stayed on the US Billboard chart for over two years.
You will of course know the 1970 hit singles — Oye Como Va and Black Magic Woman — from Santana’s Abraxas album.
3. Love, Devotion, Surrender
Santana teamed up with guitarist John McLaughlin, and found meditation under Sri Chimnoy which influenced his music, leading to the 1973 jazz-influenced album, Love, Devotion, Surrender.
In 1994, this Mexico-born guitarist set the commemorative Woodstock concert ablaze. Under his own label, Guts and Grace, he released the Grammy-nominated collaborative album, Brothers, with his brother Jorge and nephew Carlos Hernandez.
In 1997, Santana saw a phenomenal comeback on the pop charts when he re-signed the band with Clive Davis, then the president of Arista Records.
His 35th album in 1999, called Supernatural, featured equally well-known artistes including Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, and Wyclef Jean. By 2000, the album had sold 10 million copies worldwide. You know the album for its No. 1 hit single, Smooth, featuring Rob Thomas (left) on vocals. Supernatural was nominated in nine categories at the Grammy Awards including Album of the Year, and Santana won in every category.
Santana’s award-winning album, Shaman (2002), spawned the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for the song, The Game Of Love, with Michelle Branch.
8. All That I Am
Santana’s collaborative album series gave us the 2005’s All That I Am, which put up the anthemic rocker Just Feel Better, featuring Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.
9. Lifetime Achievement Award
In 2009, Santana received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. By this time, Santana had played a significant role in the development of the PRS (Paul Reed Smith) SE guitar series, introduced in 2001.
10. Guitar Heaven
In 2010, Rock And Roll Hall of Famers Santana and Davis (now with Sony Music Entertainment) gave us the album, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time. A Who’s Who of guest vocalists performed on every track including Chris Cornell (on Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love), rapper Nas (on AC/DC’s Back In Black), veteran Joe Cocker (on Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing), and India Arie and cellist Yo-Yo Ma on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The last was also a special dedication to George Harrison.