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Santana Information

Carlos Santana is a Mexican and American musician who first became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered a fusion of rock and Latin American jazz. The band’s sound featured his melodic, blues-based guitar lines set against Latin and African rhythms featuring percussion instruments such as timbales and congas not generally heard in rock music. Santana continued to work in these forms over the following decades. He experienced a resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim in the late 1990s. In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 20 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. He has won 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.

Since 2007, Santana has opened a chain of upscale Mexican restaurants called “Maria Maria”. It is a combined effort with Chef Roberto Santibañez. They are located in Tempe, Arizona; Mill Valley (now closed), Walnut Creek, Danville and San Diego; Austin, Texas; and Boca Raton, Florida.

In 2012, Santana released an album Shape Shifter consisting of mostly instrumental tracks. On February 23, 2013 there was a public announcement on ultimateclassicrock.com about a reunion of the surviving members (minus Jose “Chepito” Areas) of the Santana band who recorded Santana III in 1971. The subsequent album to be titled Santana IV.

On May 6, 2014, his first ever Spanish language album Corazón was released. On September 12, 2015 Carlos Santana appeared as a member of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s band Phil Lesh & Friends at the third annual Lockn’ Music Festival.

In 2016, Carlos Santana reunited with past Santana band members Gregg Rolie, Michael Carabello, Michael Shrieve, and Neil Schon to release the album: Santana IV and the band embarked on a brief tour. A full set from this lineup was filmed at the House of Blues in Las Vegas and was released as a live album and a DVD titled Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas. In 2017, Santana collaborated with the Isley Brothers to release the album The Power of Peace on July 28, 2017.

Santana Music Influences

Around the age of eight, Santana “fell under the influence” of blues performers like B.B. King, Javier Bátiz, Mike Bloomfield, and John Lee Hooker. Gábor Szabó’s mid-1960s jazz/gypsy guitar work also strongly influenced Santana’s playing. Indeed, Szabó’s composition “Gypsy Queen” was used as the second part of Santana’s 1970 treatment of Peter Green’s composition “Black Magic Woman”, almost down to identical guitar licks. Santana’s 2012 instrumental album Shape Shifter includes a song called “Mr. Szabo”, played in tribute in the style of Gábor Szabó. Santana also credits Jimi Hendrix, Mike Bloomfield, Hank Marvin and Peter Green as important influences; he considered Bloomfield a direct mentor, writing of a key meeting with Bloomfield in San Francisco in the foreword he wrote to a biography of Bloomfield, Michael Bloomfield: If You Love These Blues – An Oral History in 2000.

Santana moved to San Francisco and, in October 1966, started the Santana Blues Band. By 1968, the band had begun to incorporate different types of influences into their electric blues. “If I would go to some cat’s room,” remembered the guitarist of the band, “he’d be listening to Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix; another guy to the Stones and the Beatles. Another guy’d be listening to Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaría. Another guy’d be listening to Miles Davis and John Coltrane… . To me it was like being at a university.”

Santana Music Instruments

Santana played a red Gibson SG Special with P-90 pickups at the Woodstock festival. During the time between the release of Abraxas and Santana III (1970–1972), he used different Gibson Les Pauls and a Black Gibson SG Special. In 1974 he played and endorsed the Gibson L6-S Custom. This can be heard on the album Borbeletta. From 1976 until 1982 his main guitar was a Yamaha SG 175B, and sometimes a white Gibson SG Custom with 3 open coil pick-ups. In 1982 he started to use a custom made PRS Custom 24 guitar. In 1988 PRS Guitars began making Santana signature model guitars, which Santana has played through its various iterations ever since (see below).

Santana currently uses a Santana II model guitar fitted with PRS Santana III nickel covered pickups, a tremolo bar, and .009-.042 gauge D’Addario strings. He also plays a PRS Santana Multidimensional (MD). The Santana guitars feature necks made of a single piece of mahogany topped with Rosewood fretboards (some feature highly sought-after Brazilian Rosewood). This helps create the smooth, singing, glass-like tone for which he is known.

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