The Icon Known as Carlos Santana

BY: 
Rachel
 | April 18, 2023

Credit: Nuestro Stories

Carlos Santana, one of the most iconic musicians, is known as one of the leading guitar players of all time due to his skills and groundbreaking sound. His unique sound effortlessly blends influences of blues, rock, jazz and Afro-Latino sensibilities that injected a world sound into the mainstream music charts. And he’s continually made hits for six decades with the sounds of his guitar.

Read more: Ritchie Valens, the First Latino Rock Star

The man, the myth, the magic of Carlos Santana

Carlos Humberto Santana Barragan was born on July 20, 1947 in Autlan de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. He spent his younger years between Jalisco and Tijuana, Mexico’s Northern Baja California region, where his father, a trained mariachi musician, taught him to play the violin by five and guitar by eight.

Santana has said he found himself heavily influenced and inspired by American guitarist, singer, and songwriter Richie Valens, of La Bamba fame and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement.

When his family moved to San Francisco, California, American rock music and blues were combined with his own cultural influences, and his sound was born. It was also in San Francisco that he built the connections in the music industry.

He was able to infiltrate a system often not accessible to Latinos

Santana formed a band and played in the city’s streets and famed local venues like the Fillmore by the mid-1960s. Then he met the prolific event promoter, Bill Graham. Graham initially put Santana on a big stage in San Francisco, and later booked Santana’s band for the famous 1969 music festival Woodstock.

Woodstock was a platform that no Mexican musician had performed before. And, at a time when many other Latino artists were being deemed “too Latin” for the mainstream, Santana managed to transcend the stereotypes and create a space at the proverbial music table.

Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. His accomplishments include winning 10 Grammy Awards, including a record-tying nine for a single project, 1999’s “Supernatural,” as well as three Latin Grammy’s. In 1998, his group made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which boasted: “Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights.”

Santana credits God for his award-winning career in music, explaining in a radio interview: “… God’s Grace that gives you the inspiration, the energy, the vision, the passion … All the energy that you need to reach the four corners of the world.”

Today, fans of all ages can catch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist and his band across North America in his “1001 Rainbows Tour.” His official site boasts: “Throughout, Santana will perform high-energy, passion-filled songs from their fifty-year career, including fan favorites from Woodstock to Supernatural and beyond.”

Santana is finishing up a string of sold-out shows at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada, and announced additional performances of “An Intimate Evening with Santana: Greatest Hits Live: Presented by SiriusXM,” scheduled to take place this September and November.

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Featured image is from the image Hoja Suelta, by José Guadalupe Posada, 1901.
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