Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana has 71 candles on his birthday cake today. Ca…

Written by on July 20, 2018


Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana has 71 candles on his birthday cake today. Carlos has been one of those people who was in the right place at the right time. After several years spent working as a dishwasher at a diner in San Francisco and busking for spare change, Santana decided to become a full-time musician. In 1966 he gained prominence due to a series of accidental events, all happening on the same day. Santana was a frequent spectator at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West. During a Sunday matinee show, Paul Butterfield was slated to perform there but was unable to do so as a result of being intoxicated. Graham assembled an impromptu band of musicians he knew primarily through his connections with Butterfield’s band and with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but he had not yet chosen all the guitarists. Santana’s manager, Stan Marcum, immediately suggested to Graham that Santana join the impromptu band and Graham agreed. During the jam session, Santana’s guitar playing and solo gained the notice of both the audience and Graham. During the same year, Santana formed the Santana Blues Band, with fellow street musicians David Brown (bass guitar), Marcus Malone (percussion) and Gregg Rolie (lead vocals, Hammond Organ B3).

Santana was signed by CBS Records and went into the studio to record their first album. They were not satisfied with the release and decided changes needed to be made. This resulted in the dismissal of then drummer Bob Livingston. Santana replaced him with Michael Shrieve, who had a strong background in both jazz and rock. Percussionist Marcus Malone was forced to quit the band due to involuntary manslaughter charges, and the band enlisted Michael Carabello. Carabello brought with him percussionist Jose Chepito Areas, who was already well known in his country, Nicaragua, and, with his skills and professional experience, was a major contributor to the band.

Bill Graham had been a fan of the band from its inception, and arranged for them to appear at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival before their debut album was even released. The rest is, as they say, history.

If you could be at Carlos’ birthday party tonight, and he said he would play you just one song, either from Santana or from his solo work, what song would you ask for?

Happy Birthday Carlos!!!




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