Five Things You Might Not Know About Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of Instagram/@carlossantana

When we heard that guitar guru Carlos Santana collapsed on stage last Tuesday night, we nearly collapsed in our seats ourselves.

It was impossible to contemplate the idea of a world without the mystical guitarist who composed “Black Magic Woman.”

To everyone’s relief, his team assured the public that Santana was doing well. The artist collapsed from dehydration and later added in his post that he “forgot to eat and drink water” before the show.

According to Vulture, the musician, who has been on stage since the 1960s, said he was “just taking it easy” and thanked fans for their support.

Born in Mexico into a musical family, Santana and his family moved to the United States in the 1960s. The artist learned to play guitar as a child and made a name for himself in the music industry during the 1960s and 1970s.

Today he is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

To pay tribute to this musical gem, we have decided to compile the five things you may not have known about Carlos Santana.

His first instrument was, in fact, the violin

The first instrument Carlos Santana learned to play was the violin, following in his father’s footsteps, José Santana, a professional violinist.

“My father was a musician,” Carlos told Rolling Stone. “And my first memory of him was watching him playing music and watching what it did to people – he was the darling of our town. I wanted that – that charisma that he had.”

It wasn’t until he was eight years old that Carlos picked up the guitar. 

Santana’s second love is literature

Carlos Santana has always been an avid reader. Currently, he has a section on his official website called “On Carlos’ Bookshelf,” where he recommends books he has read in his quest for spiritual and personal growth.

In the early 80s, Santana would abandon the rockstar life to dedicate himself to his spiritual growth by following the teachings of guru Sri Chinmoy. Although he broke off relations with the guru, his spiritual imprint would remain for life.

“The ’60s were a leap in human consciousness. Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Che Guevara, and Mother Teresa led a revolution of conscience,” Santana said in an interview. “The Beatles, the Doors, and Jimi Hendrix created revolution and evolution themes. The music was like Dalí, with many colors and revolutionary ways. The youth of today must go there to find themselves.”

Santana was the first musician to introduce Latin rhythms to rock

His band “Santana” is one of the few groups named after an artist. Their use of salsa and mambo-style Latin percussion exposed a broad rock audience to traditional Latin American music.

Santana formed in 1966 in San Francisco and rose to fame after their appearance at Woodstock in 1969. That same year, the group’s debut album reached the top 10 on the Billboard album chart, and its leader, Carlos Santana, joined the top echelon of rock guitarists. Santana’s second album, Abraxas (1970), reached number one and spawned the hit singles “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va,” and was followed by Santana III (1971) with new guitarist Neal Schon.

At the age of 22, Carlos Santana had a collective spiritual experience at Woodstock in 1969

Carlos Santana’s most famous performance was at the 1969 Woodstock festival. He was only 22 years old and under the effects of LSD. The guitarist has commented that he hallucinated that his guitar was a snake. However, he didn’t miss a single note.

The band arrived by helicopter at Max Yasgur’s estate, the site of the festival, in August 1969. It was the first time they were to play in front of nearly half a million people.

Carlos has often recounted how he got off the helicopter around noon and told the crew he was ready to play. Still, the event was running behind schedule, and organizers told him they probably wouldn’t play until after the iconic Grateful Dead band, led by his friend Jerry Garcia.

Carlos expected they would most likely take the stage at 3 a.m., so he accepted his friend Jerry’s LSD. He put it in his mouth and started hallucinating. Santana claims that he still didn’t even know who he was when it was time to play. The guitarist has said many times that he felt the neck of his guitar slithering like snakes. He would close his eyes and thrust his fingers while praying and asking God to let him play well and that, if he did, he would never touch drugs again.

The second chapter of his professional life brought him as much or more success, as well as a love story

Becoming a commercial success again after the 1980s was no easy matter. Santana began the 1990s with the album “Spirits Dancing in the Flesh,” followed by two more albums, with little success and few concerts.

Santana was even left without a record contract.

However, Clive Davis of Arista Records, who had worked with Santana at Columbia Records, signed him and encouraged him to record a star-studded album with younger artists. The result was 1999’s Supernatural, which included collaborations with Everlast, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, CeeLo Green, Maná, Dave Matthews, KC Porter, and J. B. Eckl, among others.

This album brought us hits like “Smooth” with Rob Thomas and “Maria Maria.”

Today, Santana has a chain of restaurants named after the latter.

Supernatural went on to sell over 15 million copies in the United States and won 8 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, making it Santana’s most successful album.

Similarly, years after his divorce from Deborah King, the mother of his three children, Santana proposed to his drummer, Cindy Blackman, at a Universal Tone Tour concert at Tinley Park on July 9, 2010. They married five months later and live in Las Vegas.